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Vermont Law School Selects Firm to Design New Fitness Center

March 14, 2011

SOUTH ROYALTON, VT -- Vermont Law School today signed a contract with a nationally renowned firm, Eck/MacNeely Architects of Boston, to lead the design of the school's new fitness facility.

Construction of the $1.4 million project is slated to start in October and be completed in August 2012. The 4,100-square foot, two-story facility will have a contemporary, environmentally sustainable design that is compatible with the historic architecture of South Royalton and Vermont Law School. The new facility, which has been in the planning for several years, will be built on the same site as the current fitness center, which will be razed.

Fitness Center -- architect's drawingVLS took the unusual step of having students act as the project's client-Mary Stubblefield-Clemmensen, Marissa Knodel and Janssen Wilhoit, who are all first-year students, represented the student body. They gathered input from their classmates on what features they wanted in the fitness center, such as a green design, multi-purpose exercise space, cardiovascular and weight-training equipment, lockerrooms, a dedicated sound system and the potential to add a lap pool.

"It's unheard of to have students act as the clients every step of the way," said Jim McGrath, director of VLS Facilities, "but this will be a student facility, so who better to have as the client? These three students have put a tremendous amount of work into this project. They've really understood the architectural concepts."

Eck/MacNeely won an architectural competition to lead the project over two other Boston firms, Albert, Righter, Tittman and Kennedy/Violich, whose designs evoked a vintage train station and a modernistic covered bridge, respectively. All three firms offered sophisticated, distinctly different proposals for a sustainable building and a new visual standard for the campus. Eck/MacNeely's proposal offers what firm partner Jeremiah Eck calls sensible sustainability based on proven energy saving principles. By fitting best within the context of the school and community, the design provides VLS with a new visual standard for growth.

"The Eck/MacNeely building brings a visual reference that interprets but does not mimic the context of either the campus or the community," Dean Jeff Shields said. "It's the restraint and modesty I love most about this building. They have done significant work in responding to the student's architectural program and the school's mission to remain at the forefront of smart sustainability. Careful, intelligent growth is a very important cultural effort not only for VLS but also for the South Royalton community and beyond."

CONTACT: John Cramer, Associate Director of Media Relations
Office:  802-831-1106 , cell:  540-798-7099 , jcramer@vermontlaw.edu

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