Vassar Today

Behold Progress!

By Jeff Kosmacher

Vassar has broken ground on the new “bridge” building of the Integrated Science Center project. This view of the site was taken from the roof of Olmsted Hall, looking down on the intensive work begun this past winter. Suspended over the Fonteyn Kill, the overall 80,000-square-foot structure will dovetail with Olmsted at one end and span 410 feet to its other end at the shoulder of Raymond Avenue.

When this photo was taken in May, the construction crew was preparing to drive 139 steel pile rods deep into the bedrock below—some as long as 70 feet. Together, they will bear the building’s weight. What is perhaps the most dramatic stage of the construction process will follow—the installation of two building-length steel trusses and the two 26-foot-tall piers that will support them. The higher truss will be at a height similar to the roof of Olmsted, and, from it, the frame of the building will be hung. (The frame will ultimately rest on a thick slab placed atop the collective piles.)

Reclamation of the Fonteyn Kill wetland surrounding the site is essential to the overall project, including efforts by biology professor Margaret Ronsheim to re-establish the adjacent Edith Roberts Ecological Laboratory. Named for the Vassar plant science professor who originated and cultivated the four-acre plot from the 1920s through the 1940s, the outdoor laboratory was the first of its kind and eventually included specimens of all of the native plants in Dutchess County—nearly 2,000 different varieties.

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