The Development Office, up the stairs behind the cafe, is the bright yellow building set in Lick’s garden. The interior design of the office is quite unique compared to the rest of Lick. The renovation of this building exemplifies the Head-Heart-Hand mission of Lick- Wilmerding.
A few years back every senior at Lick had to complete a “senior project.” This project could be anything from a shops project to stone carving to an architecture design, the only requirement was that it had to be related to Lick’s arts programs. Jonah Most ‘07 chose a senior project that remains extremely important to Lick’s community: the creation of a new Development Office which allowed them to expand out of the Business Office.
This project came to be when Lick was considering purchasing 31 Howth Street, now the home of the Development Office. David Clifford, then Head of Technical Arts and the Metal Fabrications teacher, and Marino Sichi, the Wood Shop teacher at the time, thought it would be a great experience if Lick students used their skills learned through the shops to remodel the home. In the fall of 2006, Rick England, then CFO of Lick-Wilmerding, checked back in with Clifford and Sichi to see if they were still interested in remodeling the house, since Lick had decided to go ahead with the purchase. Clifford and Sichi quickly created a spring semester course for this project. “Students were already hugely involved with electrical and building stuff around campus. So we thought it would be awesome to use metal and wood students in this real life process in this project for real clients,” Clifford explains. “This project really was a model of head, hearts, and hands. It was a way for people to see what our kids were capable of.”
As the spring semester was approaching, Clifford reached out to Most, then a senior, to be the project’s foreman. “I loved the metal shop, practically lived there. I took all of David’s shop classes. At the time I didn’t necessarily know anything about construction, but I knew a lot about metal working and have done home construction projects. I also was confident with using power tools, so that’s what I brought to the table initially,” Most states. In the spring of 2007, 31 students from the Advanced Fabrication and Advanced Woodshop classes decided to put their craftsmanship skills to the tests and joined the project to remodel the house at 31 Howth Street. This project was brought to life under the leadership of Clifford, Sichi, and Most.
When 31 Howth Street was first acquired the building was old and a mess, definitely not fit to serve as an office. The students’ first job was to make a floor plan and their plan for the semester’s work. In the design process students had to be aware of the needs of the staff in the Development Office, how to make 31 Howth into both a comfortable yet professional place. Another aspect they had to keep in mind was that the building had to be environmentally friendly, go green,this was the only request Lick made of the renovation team.
The 32 students worked multiple hours a day for three to four days a week on the house. While lots of progress was made daily, every day still filled with strenuous work. “It wasn’t just that we would do the best that we could and then someone else would come in and finish up the work. We were the crew. We tore down walls and put in new insulation. Then put up new walls. We did a lot of real construction work,” Most explains. Not only did students have to rebuild the home, they also added their own touches to the house. A lot of aspects of the Development Office that we take for granted, for example the doorknobs and fireplace grate, were made in the sops by students in the class.
The school’s request that the building be green, became a major focus for the design team. Most took initiative with this aspect of the project and produced a list of changes to make the house more environmentally friendly. Cutting down energy was a key idea in terms of being environmentally friendly. In order to cut down on energy consumption, students filled the walls with insulation made from recycled blue jeans and also installed double-pane windows. The increase in efficiency rose 482% with these two simple changes. As Most reflects on how these two changes made such a big effect, he states, “One of the most rewarding parts of this project for me was proposing that we replace the windows in the house with double paned glass. Making a presentation around the economic arguments about why we should do so and having the school listen and respond and actually invest in it felt really great.” Other green changes include: dual-flush toilets to save water, low VOC paints to raise the air quality, and cork flooring to save trees. Although cork flooring doesn’t seem to be greener, cork is actually harvested every 10 years so it reduces the numbers of trees cut.
Although at the end of the semester the house wasn’t completely finished, the students got extremely close. “To finish, the school just had to do final mudding and painting, and inserting the flooring,” Clifford states.
The project as a whole provided both the students and teachers in the project with a learning experience. For Most it was a small step to discovering his passion, “I really got a first glimpse at what these projects would look like. Learn by activating multiple sides of yourself. Opened me up to possibilities,” he states. Most has now translated this love for building and designing into his daily life as a museum exhibit designer. As for Clifford, he has now taken his experiences from this project into the school he founded, the East Bay School for Boys and more recently the Design School. “Only a few schools on this planet that can rebuild their own school, this is what I took with me when I found East Bay School for Boys. Using skills from the classroom and shops to better the school and community. That is really what makes Lick so unique,” Clifford states.
The Development Office is currently the center that coordinates alumni engagement along with fundraising. The staff in the office coordinate fundraising projects like The Fund for LWHS which ultimately lead to updating different parts of campus. They also work with the Board of Trustees and Alumni Board on initiatives. All in all the staff members of the Development Office work to make connections with both the alumni and the community as well as secures funds to keep Lick running.