The end of the 2014-2015 school year brings with it the end of the first full year of classes while New Frontiers construction continues.
Currently, the construction project is in its second phase of building. The project was first approved by Westminster City Council in July 2012, with construction beginning in May 2014.
The groundworks construction team has completed their work and the art building has had its second floor filled in. “Now they’re [building] the ceiling and the floors of the art building in the next couple of weeks. After the structure is built, then there’s a special team that will come in and seal the buildings, such as installing the windows,” Director of Operations Jim Heynderickx said.
While there is no specific date set for the completion of the art building, it is expected to be finished between October and November. “In some ways, the time isn’t so critical, because we’re going to want to go in and do some cabinetry and fit out after handover. We really don’t plan to move in and start using it until January, so there’s a buffer there,” Heynderickx said.
Likewise, there is no set date for the full completion of the New Frontiers project. “The end date for the construction has changed a little bit, but it’s still to be determined,” Heynderickx said. “[The workers] might save some weeks in the second part of the project that they lost in the first few weeks.”
“As the weeks have gone by, there were some weeks where things had to go more slowly because they found unexpected things underground, like the concrete under an old underground tank was a meter thicker than expected. Things have to be changed a little bit as we go along, mostly construction methods,” Heynderickx said.
Additions to the school include a new art department, science classrooms, fitness center and a swimming pool.
Director of Advancement William Vaughan, who is in charge of raising funds for the Capital Campaign, a £22 million project, believes the campaign has been, “very successful.”
While £12 million of the Capital Campaign will go toward the construction project solely, the rest of the funds raised are reserved for endowment for financial aid. So far, the Capital Campaign has raised £20.3 million. “It’s one of the quickest campaigns I’ve ever been involved with. The fundraising aspects of it has been about 24 months,” Vaughan said.
Donators to the Capital Campaign range from current parents and parents of alumni, however, “The bulk of the funds by far have come from current parents, which is terrific,” Vaughan said.
While there is approximately £2 million more needed for the Capital Campaign, “The money’s been pledged that we needed for the buildings, from the fundraising standpoint,” Vaughan said.
To raise the remaining funds for the Capital Campaign, the school will reach out to corporations, foundations and new parents. “Typically, corporations are going to give because the school is important to them so they can attract top executives,” Vaughan said.
Watching the growth of the project over these past few years, from the planning to the beginning of the construction process, has been a unique experience for Heynderickx. “It’s really special to work on a project this large. I’ve been involved in campus projects before, but to do one in St. John’s Wood in a conservation area, the challenge of getting planning permission, of making a building that the St. John’s Wood community is proud of, is a great challenge,” he said.
Likewise, disruption for neighbors of the St. John’s Wood community as a result of the construction has been minimal. “The feedback we’ve gotten from the neighbors is that we’ve done a good job in controlling the traffic and the noise and following the regulations,” Heynderickx said.
During the building process, no specific changes have been made with regards to the construction. Heynderickx explained that this is because each time a change is made, it must be approved by Westminster City Council, which often is a time-consuming process. “Since we received planning permission, we haven’t made many exterior changes because that would have triggered additional planning permission applications,” he said.
It is expected that the new buildings will include more space for High School students, HS Principal Jack Phillips said. “We anticipate that there will be a place for students to relax and hang out and a gallery space to display student work.”
As the building project comes together and continues to make progress, Phillips looks forward to what the product will mean for students. “I love the idea of a building, we need space. Square footage is a premium here and I think it directly translates into programs and opportunities for students. Whether they’re passionate about science, passionate about art, we’re honoring a lot of things that make ASL, ASL,” he said.
With 40 to 50 people working on the construction site daily, and the sheer scale of the project, Heynderickx believes the expected outcome of the project makes all members of the team, proud. “It’s going to be [a project] they will bring others to see and say, look at the work that we did on this’,” Heynderickx said.