Austin Prep's massive capital infrastructure project
Austin Prep's patron, St. Augustine, had an exhortation in one of his sermons: "Do not be content with what you are, if you want to become what you are not yet. For where you have grown pleased with yourself, there you will remain . . . Always add something more, keep moving forward, always make progress." As a school community, Austin Prep takes St. Augustine's advice to heart. The school remains in growth mode with the past summer being another one of sustained progress and transformation.
Shortly after the final bell rang to close the 2022-2023 academic year, Austin Prep undertook a massive $4.2 million capital project to replace the school's heating system, install air conditioning to instructional and administrative space, and modernize instructional space and technology. This initiative was another giant step forward in modernizing the school's facilities. In upgrading the school's mechanical systems, Austin Prep also installed HVAC equipment that is more energy efficient, thereby reducing our carbon footprint, and focusing on care for the natural environment.
The project was set in motion after the decision by the Board of Trustees in January 2023 to move forward with the major renovation project. The work spanned 14 summer weeks, an initiative that longtime school project and construction management partner Pimentel Construction called "one of our most complex projects we've completed for Austin Prep yet, renovating 70,000 square feet across the entire academic building."
Despite the considerable scope of work, the school year kicked off on time as planned, and in an ironic twist, as other local schools were forced to dismiss students from school early due to excessive heat, Austin Prep students enjoyed a cool first week of class during an unseasonably late-summer heat wave that saw temperatures reach into the 90s.
The HVAC and classroom modernization project is an indication of Austin Prep's bright future and continued growth. As the school closed a year of celebrating its 60th anniversary -- Austin Prep first admitted students in 1963 -- the project was also a symbolic step forward as the school rises to meet the challenge of the next 60 years and beyond. It is likely that the only time Austin Prep experienced a project of a similar magnitude in its 60-year history was when the cornerstone was laid.
The summer infrastructure project was the next in a line of considerable additions to the campus footprint in recent years, including a completely renovated Dining Hall with all-inclusive dining plan in 2018; a state-of-the-art athletic complex, including a baseball stadium with synthetic playing surface, playing space for soccer and field hockey, and six tennis court facility in 2020; and a new modular and flexible science lab to support teaching and learning in the life, chemical, and physical sciences in both the Upper and Middle Schools, plus renovations to the Chapel of St. Augustine in 2022.
New infrastructure projects of this nature are funded by philanthropy, and in order to expand programming, launch new initiatives, or add infrastructure, Austin Prep relies on the generosity of parents and benefactors to support these endeavors, and will need to continue to do so. The school is grateful for those who made gifts to advance the growth of teaching and learning, and to make projects like these a reality.
As a result of the work, it's unmistakable that Austin Prep's instructional space has been transformed -- it's bright, modern, and well-equipped to begin the school's next 60 years.
TYLER FLEMING IS DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS AT AUSTIN PREPARATORY SCHOOL (TYLER.FLEMING@AUSTINPREP.ORG OR 781-944-4900 X780) IN READING, MASS., AN INDEPENDENT, AUGUSTINIAN CATHOLIC SCHOOL SERVING YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN IN GRADES 6-12.