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Planning for the Future

Guided by a mission to engage, challenge, and prepare students to succeed in college and in life and to instill in them a desire to make an impact for good beyond themselves, Sewickley Academy has a long tradition of innovation in teaching and learning.

Plans to enhance the Oliver Building and the Means Alumni Gym, renovations that are part of Phase II of the Academy’s Master Plan, will enable the delivery of advanced science curriculum and real-world learning experiences and support a campus culture of arts, athletics, and community collaboration. Together, the transformed facilities will enable the school to operate and thrive in a manner consistent with its mission.

The Oliver Building

The Oliver Building has served several generations of Senior School students as the home of our science program since 1986. Almost 30 years later, it is clear that what has served us so well is no longer meeting our needs.

As our region and country work to strengthen education in science, math, and technology, and as we increasingly support more student-centered learning, our faculty and students need facilities that are commensurate with the high level of teaching and learning that take place in the building. Colleges expect high school students to have undertaken a level of research and data collection that is just not possible in the space as it is currently configured.

Click here for more information about the Oliver Building project and construction timeline. 

The Means Alumni Gym

The Means Alumni Gym was built in 1962 and updated in 1997. This historic facility has served generations of students who have passed through its doors.

Most importantly, a renovation and expansion of the Means Alumni Gym will also allow us to address a challenge that we have faced countless times for well over a decade: the lack of a place where the entire school community can gather for important moments in the life of the school, such as all-school assemblies, guest speakers, and large special events including graduation, which was moved outdoors several years ago to accommodate the number of guests who attend this milestone event.

Having the capacity to bring together every student, faculty, and staff member on our campus would further strengthen our school’s strong sense of community – an Academy hallmark that so many hold dear. Among many other things, the expanded facility would also allow the space necessary for an NCAA regulation-sized basketball court.

Construction plans for the Means Alumni Gym will begin in January 2015, with plans to open in January 2016.

Questions & Answers

Why is a renovation of the Oliver Building needed?

  • Science pedagogy has changed since the Oliver Building opened. Students entering college are expected to have conducted experiments and research that last longer than a lab period. This is impossible in the current classrooms which may host physics, biology and chemistry labs in a given week.
  • Students are forced to move from classroom to lab and back again making it impossible to fully integrate hands-on, collaborative, learning experiences with lectures and presentations.
  • As we continue to focus on integrated learning by developing cross disciplinary classes that include multiple subject areas such as science/history/literature, larger, more flexible spaces would provide opportunities for students to better synthesize information from different subject areas.
  • Our one stationary computer lab does not offer students to do the complex graphing and data gathering that will help them to prepare for college science courses.
  • The space for our robotics program is in a completely separate location from the rest of our science facility making it hard to integrate robotics into demonstrations and labs.
  • Labs lack the equipment that reflects the high level of sophistication now expected in high school science work with fixed desks and chairs, lack of digital media for data collection, outdated safety equipment, limited electrical outlets, lack of storage and outdated safety equipment.

What will a renovation of the Oliver Building provide?

  • Reconfigure the existing labs and classrooms into a more efficient and synergistic arrangement.
  • Provide the state-of-the-art equipment and furnishings. For example:
    • advanced spectrophotometers
    • precision balances
    • new sinks and classroom furniture
    • new projectors
    • laptop computers or iPads
    • Spark Science Learning Systems - handheld devices that allow for the connection of probes and display lab data on full-color screens. PASPORT Probeware would provide additional probes that would connect with the Spark System.
  • Improve learning by providing immediate access to computers and microcomputer devices that can be used to analyze data and simulate ideal conditions. This will better prepare students for what they can expect in college and beyond.
  • Increase lab space from an average of 875 square feet to 1,100 square feet, with flexible furnishings to allow teachers to configure the space in their room and better accommodate a range of activities, experiments, and lessons.
  • Create spaces more conducive to learning by allowing better natural lighting.
  • Add SMART Boards.

Where will the Summerbridge Pittsburgh office be relocated?

After spring break 2014, the Summerbridge Pittsburgh office will be relocated to the Jones Conference Room in the Lower School.

Why is a renovation of the Means Alumni Gym needed?

  • We do not have a space large enough and flexible enough to accommodate all of the physical education classes, special events, and athletic activities that are scheduled throughout the school year.
  • During inclement weather, only one team can be accommodated in the current space forcing other teams to use alternative spaces such as the senior school commons or to focus on weight training instead of team practice.
  • Currently we have to close the Hansen Library to accommodate campus activities such as standardized testing, severely limiting study space and computer access for the rest of our student body during these times.
  • Our Middle School students must use the same locker rooms as our Senior School students.
  • We do not have a place where the entire community can gather for special events such as Sewickley Series speakers, community service events, or prom.

What will a renovation of the gym provide?

  • A space large enough to accommodate up to 900 people for all-school assemblies, graduations, and special events.
  • A multi-purpose space for meetings, testing, or classes.
  • An NCAA regulation-sized basketball court, which would allow us to host WPIAL Playoff games.
  • New boys’ and girls’ locker rooms, visiting team locker rooms; and separate Middle School locker rooms.
  • A state-of-the art, expanded training facility.
  • State-of-the-art gymnasium that can be divided into either two physical education teaching spaces, two Middle School basketball game venues, or two practice areas for basketball or varsity sports during inclement weather.
  • Offices for athletic and physical education staff and coaches.
  • Indoor batting cage, athletic trophy cases, and a team meeting room.

What does the timeline look like for these projects?

Pending securing necessary building permits, Edgeworth Borough approvals, and funding:

  • March 2014 – commence renovation of Oliver Building
  • August 2014 – open Oliver Building
  • January 2015 – commence work on Means Alumni Gym
  • January 2016 – completion of Means Alumni Gym facility

What will be the impact on student life at SA during construction?

As you can see by the timeline, we hope to keep the inconvenience to a minimum. The Oliver Building project is designed to impact only the very end of the 2013-14 school year. The Means Alumni project will take 12 months. During the first part of 2015, impact on student life and athletics will be minimal. We will have to make adjustments during the fall of 2015 for gym and locker room usage. The new Means Alumni Gym facility will open in January 2016.

Why these projects? Why now?

Every project we undertake at Sewickley Academy is linked in a significant way to our mission and core values. Renovating the Oliver Building and the Means Alumni Gym will vastly improve our learning spaces and help us maintain the highest standards of educational vigor. By creating flexible spaces outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment, we will ensure that our students are even more effectively prepared for college and for the 21st century workforce.


For more information, contact the Advancement Office at advancement@sewickley.org or 412-741-2230.


- Increased lab space
- Flexible furnishings to support a wide range of teaching approaches
- Better natural lighting
- State-of-the-art equipment including spectrophotometers, precision balances, laptop computers or iPads, Spark Science Learning Systems, and SMART Boards


- Indoor venue to accommodate the entire SA community and large audiences
- Gymnasium that can accommodate two physical education teaching spaces
- Space for new fitness program offerings and team fitness workouts
- Offices for athletic and physical education staff and coaches, and a meeting room with video review capabilities
- Visiting team locker room, officials' changing room, and locker rooms for Middle and Senior School boys and girls
- NCAA regulation-sized basketball court and indoor batting cage
- Training facility expansion with state-of-the-art equipment

Artistic Rendering of Means Center

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