Sarah Ray
Posted: September 24, 2001

VT - What should a college do with an old science center
building which it doesn’t want any more and which sits
on the perfect site for a new college library? Especially
Middlebury College, which prides itself on its commitment to
the environment? Rather than haul the rubble to the
landfill, the College plans to recycle 98 percent of the
entire six-story building.

the facility is consistent with the College’s own waste
management standards. Middlebury’s trustees endorsed
sustainable design and building principles for the College
in 1999. In addition to these guidelines, a construction and
demolition waste policy was adopted last year. “Middlebury
is the first college or university in the United States to
have adopted such environmental rules for new construction
and renovations,” said Middlebury College Director of
Environmental Affairs Nan Jenks-Jay. “The removal of the old
science center will truly put these self-imposed regulations
to the test.”

After the
old science center undergoes deconstruction, as the process
of demolition is called, construction on the new $40-million
library will begin in the spring of 2002 and is scheduled
for completion during the summer of 2004.

Some have
called the old science center an architectural mistake since
it opened in 1968. Located on Storrs Avenue off of College
St. (Route 125), it was used through the spring of 1999. The
College opened Bicentennial Hall, a new science center on
the western edge of campus, in the fall of that year. Since
that time, the old science center has stood empty as
administrators contemplated how to improve library
facilities, and considered how the old science center might
fit into these plans.

According to
Glenn Andres, Middlebury College professor of history of art
and architecture and chair of the library planning
committee, at first it was thought that the old science
center might make a good temporary library while the current
library was renovated and expanded. “Eventually it became
clear that neither the old science center or the current
library could serve permanent library needs. When it was
also evident that the new library should be located on the
site of the old science center, we made the bold and unusual
decision to recycle nearly an entire building. A new library
also will provide the flexibility to create the best
possible long-term facility for the information age,” said

offers another opportunity - to improve an important area of
campus where the town and the College’s boundaries
connect. Along with the new library, a reconfiguration of a
town street will improve traffic flow in the area, and
better landscaping will establish a more attractive link
between the village and the campus,” he added.

The removal
of the old science center is taking place in several phases.
Dismantling and recycling of the building’s interior
began in mid-June this year. The final phase of
deconstruction, which includes the exterior walls, starts
the week of September 24. Work will take place Monday
through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 8
a.m. to 4 p.m. and will last up to four weeks until its
scheduled completion by the end of October. According to
Middlebury College Project Manager Tom McGinn, potentially
disruptive deconstruction will be curtailed during services
at the nearby Church of the Assumption.

The cost of
recycling the building is $800,000 but, according to
Jenks-Jay, the investment is roughly comparable to removing
the building in a more traditional method and sending the
waste to a landfill.

this project, the College has remained committed to
construction practices that support a sustainable
environment. For example, concrete from the building will be
crushed at the construction site itself to make use of the
material in the new construction project on the same site.
This method eliminates the need to truck the waste to
another location, therefore avoiding the creation of
additional air and noise pollution,” said

How is the
material - 600 tons of concrete, 150 tons of metal and 75
tons of wood - from the old science center going to be
recycled? The majority of the building - approximately 80
percent - consists of concrete. Workers will load the
concrete chunks piece by piece into a “crusher” which will
be located on-site. The material will be used as project
fill for the library and other campus construction sites as
well as roads. Portions of the exterior walls made up
largely of limestone will be salvaged for reuse. An
additional 15 percent of the building consists of recyclable
metals such as copper, steel and aluminum. The remaining
five percent of debris is glass and wood, which will both be
recycled. The wood will be turned into chips and then sent
to a wood-burning electricity plant.

Prior to the
start of the deconstruction and recycling of the interior of
the old science center, the College donated much of the
science equipment once housed in the building to various
schools in Vermont and New Hampshire. Middlebury also sold
three of the old science center’s large air handlers to
public schools in Proctor, Vt., for approximately 20 percent
of their original 1992 cost.

a new library also necessitates the removal of four houses
along Storrs Avenue between the old science center and South
Main Street (Route 30). Rather than tearing these structures
down, the College has arranged for their relocation to
College-owned sites elsewhere in town. The houses will be
moved to two lots on South Street at the intersection of
Porter Field Road; to one lot on the corner of Shannon and
Weybridge Streets; and to 121 South Main Street, where an
existing structure will be removed. The stone from the
foundation of this existing structure will be saved and
reused to cover the foundation exteriors of the newly
relocated houses. The total cost of the relocations will be
from $600,000 to $800,000.

College will provide updates on the progress of the
deconstruction through its Web site at,
which includes a current view of the old science center via
a live Web camera. Members of the public may also contact
the public affairs office at 802-443-5198.

construction and deconstruction

features of new library

efficiency standards and environmentally responsible
building practices will be used throughout. According to
architect Bob Siegel of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates,
the building is expected to receive a silver and perhaps
even a gold rating with Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design (LEED), a new national standard for
sustainable design created by the United States Green
Building Council. Such environmental features include:

windows that conserve energy during both heating and

blinds to minimize light pollution to the outside and to
reduce radiational heat transfer

certified wood from Vermont—wood that has been
harvested and processed through ecologically sensitive

bike storage areas for library employees who cycle to

energy systems use a control structure of sensors that
determine the demand for energy in each room, providing
heating and cooling as necessary. The systems also include
the option of automatic nighttime reductions in heating and
cooling, as well as sensors that regulate lighting by noting
the amount of daylight in the building and the occupancy
level of a room.

deconstruction of old science center

College’s old science center is located on the future
site of the new library and therefore its deconstruction is
an integral and necessary element of the new library

percent recycling of the old science center

  • 600
    tons of concrete
  • 150
    tons of metal
  • 75
    tons of wood

portions of the building crushed on site eliminates need to
truck waste elsewhere

of the exterior walls made up largely of limestone will be
salvaged for reuse

of science equipment in building to schools in Vermont and
New Hampshire

Sale of
three of the old science center’s large air handlers to
schools in Vermont

not demolition, of four houses near construction