All In The Campaign for Blair Academy 2018-2025
A New Look Coming Soon to Mason & Freeman 
Adele Starrs

In the 1970s, Rob Sigety ’75, P’16 ’18 ’20 ’21 called Blair’s Mason Hall home, sharing the space with 31 of his fellow juniors and seniors. Acquainted with all the nooks and crannies of his former dormitory, Rob’s knowledge serves him well today as a Blair Trustee and head of the Board’s Buildings and Grounds Committee. Back then, Mason stood as one of the newer buildings on campus, rising from the expansive green field now known as “the Bowl.” The dorm boasted lime-green tiled bathrooms and a modern split-faced masonry exterior that embodied the architectural trends of the time. Now, Rob happily shares, Blair’s Board of Trustees has greenlit a renovation of the 58-year-old boys’ dorm, alongside its neighbor, Freeman Hall, which was constructed the same year. 

“We’ve been talking about this on the Board and Buildings and Grounds Committee for a long time,” Rob explains. “Prior to the construction of Kathryn and Lakeside halls, we recognized that the architecture of Mason and Freeman needs to be more compatible with the other buildings on campus.”

Now, Mason and Freeman are set for a makeover. The dormitories will undergo a transformation—with new and updated exteriors made of limestone, stone and brick, as well as new windows that should lend the dorms more visual compatibility with the neighboring buildings.  

While the general layout of the dorms will remain unchanged, lighting, carpeting, floor coverings and wood trim will all receive upgrades, along with a complete refurbishing of all the buildings’ bathrooms. Currently, residents on the dorm’s first floor use bathrooms on higher levels. That, too, will change, with a new bathroom being added to the ground floor.

One thing Rob is glad will not change is the central atrium concept of the dorms. The current open plan, with a center atrium extending from the bottom floors to the top, “gives students a much more social experience.” That social aspect is crucial, Rob says, and the current project involves adding new features that promote greater socialization and circulation, such as outside recreational spaces and a common patio between the two dorms with chairs and space for students to relax and sit together. 
 
While not as glamorous as some of the cosmetic changes, plans also include implementing much-needed energy conservation measures. Improved insulation, new heating systems and thermopane windows should reduce energy consumption for the buildings, leading to lower utility bills and a decreased environmental impact that benefits everyone.

“These are well-built buildings. They are solid,” Rob says, “and I am glad that we can utilize their sound, existing structures. But, these renovations are needed because of the age of the dorms. It’s going to make them so much more attractive. We feel really good about it.”

Look for construction to begin in spring 2025. Work will be conducted over two summers, when the dorms are not in use by students, and is expected to finish in the fall of 2026. 

 

Note: The attached photos illustrate potential designs for the renovated buildings. These visuals are not final and are subject to change.

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