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