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Garden House Project Reaches Significant Milestone

The renovation and expansion of Packer’s Garden House marked a major milestone on April 29, 2024, about 10 months after breaking ground. The final piece of the Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) was added to the top of the building, completing its sustainable structure, which uses naturally renewable materials in lieu of carbon-intensive steel or concrete. It will be one of the first school buildings in New York State featuring a CLT structure. 

The team from Packer celebrated the occasion along with the team from Archstone Builders with a “topping out” ceremony. This construction tradition, which often includes stakeholders signing the final structural unit before it is placed, symbolizes the completion of a significant phase of the work and acknowledges the collective skill and effort it took to get there.

See more photos on Packer's Flickr account

The new Garden House is on track to open as a purpose-built home for Packer’s Lower School in fall 2025. It will consist of classrooms with flexible in-room spaces for first through fourth grades, along with hallway breakout spaces and offices for Lower School administrative personnel. 

In addition to the CLT structure, the building will feature additional sustainable materials, equipment and systems with future building standards and decreased energy and water usage in mind. All-electric mechanical systems will ensure the building is 'future-proofed,' anticipating a renewably sourced electrical grid and a shift away from reliance on fossil fuels. The Garden House will include LED and low-load fixtures, occupancy monitors, and a building management system for tracking and managing heating and cooling requirements.

While the community has had to adapt to life without the Garden for the end of the 23-24 school year, the renovation of the Garden itself is ahead of schedule. Part of the redesigned Garden will open for play and gathering in time for the 24-25 school year. The new Garden design supports different modes of developmentally important children’s play, and also emphasizes sustainability, including through its water management system. 

An all-weather connector will adjoin the Garden House to Packer’s main building, facilitating movement through campus for Lower School classes like arts, library, and physical education, and fostering the intentional cross-divisional interactions that help relationships and belonging flourish at Packer.

(Photo: Head of School Dr. Jen Weyburn and Pre/Lower School Division Head Zoë Hillman sign the final piece of CLT that completes the structure of the new Garden House.)

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