How did the Leach Center for the Performing Arts get ahead of schedule?

With the exception of an overnight Labor Day transformation from summer to snowy winter, Colorado Academy has enjoyed a warm, pleasant, and dry—very dry—autumn. That’s allowed students and faculty to use safe practices by holding outdoor classes and picnic lunches during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s also been particularly helpful for the Fransen Pittman construction crews building the Leach Center for the Performing Arts.

“Our weather has been great for construction,” says Director of Operations Jesse Schumacher. “The project is going extremely well.”

The demolition of the Froelicher Theatre attracted an audience, but what’s been happening in the intervening months? That’s the period of time that Schumacher refers to as “in the dirt.”

“When you are ‘in the dirt,’ excavating the entire site, everyone holds their breath,” Schumacher says. “During that time, you often have unforeseen variables surprise you, like hitting ground water.”

But with the Leach Center project, there were no surprises. The entire site was excavated without any delays caused by the discovery and removal of ground water. As a result, the project is now about one and half weeks ahead of schedule.

Visitors to the site in mid-November saw workers finishing the foundation and backfilling—moving dirt and packing it up against the walls. Contractors—including electrical, plumbing, and mechanical—also began their work of burying utilities.

 Here’s what you will see next

The next major milestone for the construction project will be erecting the concrete exterior of the fly loft, a rectangle soaring out of the ground on the south side of the building. The fly loft sits at the back of the stage and will be the tallest part of the building. When finished, it’s the area that will hold the scenery, hanging out of view, until, during a scene change, it descends to stage level.

“With the construction of most new buildings, you learn a new concept that may not apply to any other building,” Schumacher says. “With the Athletic Center, I had to learn how to build a proper wooden gym floor and maintain it. With the Leach Center, I learned what a fly loft was and all the extremely intricate mechanical systems that will make it function when it’s finished.”

Fransen Pittman workers are using special safety measures, including wearing masks and staying socially distanced whenever possible during the project, which is under the supervision of Project Superintendent Chris Hughes.

“Fransen Pittman has been such an important partner for us on this and multiple other CA projects,” Schumacher says. “The more projects we do together, the more efficiencies we find, and the better the final outcome with money saved.”

Schumacher stands on what will be the orchestra pit in the Leach Center.

So, as CA makes its way through a year of many changes and disruptions, the Leach Center project gives Schumacher joy, because, he says, it is “controllable.” With more good weather and good luck, CA will celebrate the grand opening of the new Leach Center for the Performing Arts at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year.

CA continues to seek philanthropic support to raise the $4.5 million needed to complete fundraising goals and add the Leach Center—which will be one of the most public spaces at CA—to the roster of beautiful, functional buildings on campus. We invite you to play a role in CA’s future by making a gift today to support the project. Many naming opportunities in the Leach Center remain. Please visit CASeeItThrough.org or contact Gravely Wilson, CA Advancement Officer, at gravely.wilson@coloradoacademy.org to make a gift or learn more.