SSA Dedicates the McIlroy Center for Science and Innovation

Shady Side Academy dedicated its new Senior School science building, the McIlroy Center for Science and Innovation, with an afternoon ceremony and reception on Friday, May 18, 2018.

The ceremony began with remarks from Academy President Tom Cangiano, Jeff McIlroy '86 (on behalf of his parents, Peter '61 and Pam McIlroy, and family), Campaign for Shady Side Co-Chairs Lou Plung '80 and Rob Mullin '93, and Board of Trustees Chair Mike Hannon '74 and Chair-Elect Jon Kamin '91. Then, the ribbon was officially cut by Jeff McIlroy and Bruce Weigand '65, alongside their wives, Erica and Barbara, as well as Robert and Megan Glimcher, Cangiano, Hannon and Kamin. A festive reception followed inside, including student-led tours of the building.

McIlroy Center Dedication Photos and Highlight Video:

Features and Impact

The 22,000-square-foot, U-shaped building is the new home of the Senior School Science Department and includes 10 flexible classroom/lab spaces for physics, biology and chemistry; spaces for research, collaboration and independent study; faculty offices; and an outdoor amphitheater for classes, lectures and events.

The building incorporates sustainable features that reduce environmental impact while creating teaching opportunities, such as a rain garden that collects storm runoff and rooftop solar panels that supply electricity to the grid. The building is expected to earn LEED Gold certification.

The science faculty, which includes several PhDs with college teaching experience, is particularly excited about the state-of-the-art, college-level lab equipment that will be inside the building – such as a gas chromatography (GC) machine, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) machine, real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine, materials testing bench, fluorescent microscope, scanning electron microscope, gel documentation system and -80 lab freezer. With that caliber of equipment, students will be able to do more in-depth experimentation, and advanced classes can engage in higher-level research.

"Not many high school labs have this type of equipment," said Science Department Chair Dr. Joe Martens. "When our kids go on to study science in college, this is the kind of equipment and methodology they'll be using."

The new facility also will allow SSA to better support student independent research. A special projects room is adjacent to the faculty office suite, separated by a glass partition, giving students supervised access to research space throughout the day, with storage for long-term projects.

McIlroy Center Photo Tour

Construction and Fundraising

Ground was broken for the McIlroy Center one year ago, on May 18, 2017, and construction was completed this month. The building was designed by the architectural firm Frederick Fisher & Partners of Los Angeles, Strada was the local and construction architect, and PJ Dick oversaw construction. Scalo Solar Solutions provided the solar rooftop array and monitoring.

The construction of the McIlroy Center for Science and Innovation is the capstone to a comprehensive, multi-year plan to upgrade science facilities across SSA's campuses. The Middle School's three science labs were renovated in 2014 and 2016, and the Junior School's one science lab was renovated and expanded into a suite of five new labs in 2015.

The McIlroy Center is a $14 million capital project, including $11 million in construction costs and a $3 million endowment for maintenance. Fundraising efforts to date have raised nearly $12.7 million. A seven-figure leadership gift to name the building was made by SSA alumnus, past parent and current grandparent Peter McIlroy '61 and his wife, Pam. Other lead donors include the Wiegand Family Foundation (by Bruce '65 and Barbara Wiegand), the Cleveland Family, an alumnus of the Class of 1956 who wishes to remain anonymous, and the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

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