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Mem Transforms into Hi-Tech Hess
Julia Dixon '16 Associate Editor
September 10, 2014

After a year of construction, the Hess Center, formerly known as the Memorial Building, is open for the Deerfield community to enjoy. Faculty officially moved into the new facility in mid- August, and now students can make the space their own.

Additionally, the $33 million project—funded entirely from generous gifts—is within budget. Thirteen million dollars of that budget was spent on renovations to existing parts of the structure.

The Hess Center
Hess Center Auditorium

Renovations included repairing the roof; restoring the lobby; and replacing all of the windows and exterior entrances, plumbing, fire protection, electrical and lighting systems, interior finishes and new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.

The building has also gone through considerable expansion, increasing by 15,100 square feet to a total of 85,000 square feet. Significant features include the auditorium, concert hall, art gallery and classrooms, with the auditorium now holding the entire DA community. The new balconies extend seating to 803 in the Large Auditorium, about 150 more seats.

The Elizabeth Wachsman Concert Hall took the longest to complete since it is completely new. That space contains 170 seats and a floor-to-ceiling glass wall behind the stage.Senior Project Manager Jeffery Galli remarked, “The architecture and acoustical engineering of the space is amazing.”

The Von Auersperg Art Gallery has glass walls, which provide light and expansive views of the campus. Student work, faculty pieces and master works from the Academy’s collection will be displayed in this space.

Finally, the Hess Center classrooms offer huge improvements over the former classrooms. Art teacher Mr. David Dickinson explained the benefits: “Since coming to Deerfield, I’ve always taught visual art in the basement, and I think the donors wanted the drawing and painting efforts of the students brought ‘above ground’ to a more desirable location for visitors and community to see. We won’t feel like moles anymore as my studio classrooms are now on the second floor.” He added that they will have great views of the sun setting over the Lower Levels.