Lewis Contractors has recently completed the most recent, and perhaps grandest, phase of a $105M Campus Improvement Plan for the Maryland School for the Blind (MSB) in Nottingham, MD. Lewis has served as the Construction Manager leading MSB’s six-year comprehensive 100 acre campus-wide improvement program for the school. Work was inclusive of multiple multi-phased projects ranging from historic restorations, contemporary renovations, and new facility construction to pavilions, playgrounds and turf fields. Most recently, this final project served as the grand finale to the campus upgrades and included restoration and renovation of the historic Newcomer Hall, renovations to Case and Campbell Halls, an addition to Case Hall, demolition of the existing Wolfe Center and construction of a new roadway closing the traffic loop to the entire campus.
Following the Department of the Interior Guidelines as well as oversight by the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT), the exterior facade of Newcomer Hall—built in 1910—underwent a complete restoration which required construction of elaborate scaffolding that encased the entire building to facilitate preservation of both the brick masonry and the ornate details of the landmark structure. Historic brick masonry was hand washed using purified water and repointed to match the existing mortar profiles. The portions of the slate roofing needing repairs and both internal and exterior copper gutters and flashings were repaired or replaced as necessary. Roofing slate from a long closed quarry was located and all available materials purchased for this project as well as for future use should it become necessary. The very large existing windows were replaced by custom-made, historically accurate, wood, single-pane windows and the glazed terra cotta entablature and building details carefully cleaned and skillfully restored.
Renovations to Case and Campbell Halls began with the demolition and reworking of the existing mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, and installation of new rooftop units. Interior work included creation of a new gymnasium, food preparation/teaching kitchen, mailroom, shipping/receiving area, classrooms and laboratories. An addition to Case Hall included a new kitchen, dining hall, the Weinberg Library, media center and an outdoor dining/teaching terrace. The final phase of the work for the Newcomer, Case, and Campbell Halls project included demolition of the existing Wolfe Center and site work with a new retaining wall, storm water management structure and roadway to close the campus wide loop road.
Throughout the course of the extensive cross-campus improvements, Lewis became fully invested in the students within the MSB community, maximizing synergies between the students and contractor to bring additional value to this project by taking the opportunity to transform what could have been a disruptive construction experience into safe teachable moments for students and faculty alike. Hosting multiple “Meet the Builders Days”, Lewis engaged in Q&A with the students and staff, who enjoyed safe, hands‐on lessons learning about construction materials and the equipment used for the project. Students also took part in a ceremonial beam signing memorializing their attendance by handprints forever decorating the steel. In short, the Lewis Team went beyond simply managing the construction process—as a disinterested builder—to optimize the construction experience through education.
In addition to the recently completed Newcomer, Case, and Campbell Halls project, the campus-wide improvement program also included construction for:
• Russo Hall Blanton Hall Student Recreation Center & Café (2018)
• Andrews Preschool Early Learning & Outreach Center Renovation (2017)
• Autism-Blind Classroom & Cottage Buildings (2016)
• Beep Baseball Field and Track Loop, funded in part by the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation (2015)
• Multiple Disabilities-Blind Classroom & Cottage Buildings (2014)
Maryland School for the Blind provides outreach, educational and residential services for nearly three in four of the 1,800 blind students throughout the State of Maryland. As a statewide resource center, the School provides services to help students reach their fullest potential by preparing them to be as successful, independent, and well-rounded contributing members of their communities as possible, annually serving 73 percent of the students identified as blind or visually impaired from birth to age 21.
MSB plans to continue work on future phases of the master plan and Lewis looks forward to joining them again as those plans comes to fruition.