The excitement was palpable as students and staff were treated to an inside peek at the new REACH residential and classroom building this week.
Julia Brown, a first-year student who will be moving into her second year in a brand-new apartment in the building, could only utter “holy mackerel” with a big smile as she toured a sample apartment. “It’s going to be so much fun!”
Chapel Haven’s campus expansion will take a giant leap ahead in early July, when our new REACH residential and classroom building is complete. Owner’s representative Leland Torrence said construction is nearly around-the-clock at this point,
The new, 32,500-square-foot building comprises four floors and includes state-of-the-art classrooms, a new student lounge, one- and two-bedroom apartments, a teaching apartment for day students, and staff offices. Leland showed students, members of Chapel Haven’s Building Committee and staff a sample apartment and even let them try opening and closing the Anderson windows.
Evan Irgang, who will be moving into the new building as a second-year student in July, said, “I think it’s great. It’s better than the old building. I like the bedroom. This is much bigger.”
Many of the apartments look out on the new “outdoor living room” courtyard between the new REACH building and the Welcome Center. Others have a stunning view of West Rock. Each apartment will be color coded to make it easier for students to find their ways. Many of the bedrooms include adjoining bathroom suites, another luxury that made students say the new building feels “almost like a hotel.”
The REACH teaching team especially enjoyed touring the new building and seeing amenities such as the teaching apartment on the first floor, the flex space for meetings and conferences, their new office space and the five first-floor classrooms, all equipped with whiteboards. Evening supervisor Sue Peters loved the new storage cabinets where meds will be stored and inquired about flooring and other amenities as the teachers explored their office space.
For REACH teacher Bill Angier, the timing is fantastic. He began teaching at Chapel Haven just as the shovels were hitting the ground last fall. “I love it. What an awesome perspective – to get to see both the new building and the old.Just the classroom space, the new technology, the new teaching apartment downstairs – it’s just a great opportunity for our students as us as educators.”
The focus over the next few weeks will be completing fixtures and lighting in the new building and outfitting the apartments, classrooms and staff offices with new furniture, Leland said.
Cherice Grandy, REACH Administrative Manager, was visibly excited about her new office space on the third floor. “My office right now has no windows so anything is an upgrade to me.” She proclaimed the new REACH campus “amazing.”
The new REACH campus has been designed with a tremendous amount of research and care. The design and construction team from the S/L/A/M Collaborative consulted with Dr. Laurie Sperry, an internationally renowned autism expert and a consultant to Chapel Haven, to create a learning- and living-friendly environment.
The completion of the new REACH campus is part of Chapel Haven’s Phase 1 campus expansion. In February, Chapel Haven cut the ribbon on our new Welcome Center, which serves as the new gateway to our campus. This new addition is punctuated by a curved glass lobby and reception space that also includes a gallery showcasing works of art by Chapel Haven adults, connected to a multi-media presentation and conference room. A stone hearth and built-in seating are provide restful areas for those visiting Chapel Haven.
In Phase 2, expected in the fall of 2018, Chapel Haven will break ground on a new, four-story residential community designed for older adults. Along with apartments, clinical space and community services, this addition will be universal in design and layout, and will be intergenerational, where adults with disabilities can flourish into their senior years in a vibrant and non-institutional setting.
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