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Massey Leadership Center

The James B. Massey Jr. Leadership Center, one of the newest buildings on the Academy campus and a hub of activity, continues to rack up honors for its environmentally sustainable design.

This year the Massey Center achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, a level of distinction that puts it in a very select category for buildings in the Hampton Roads region. The Center, designed by Hanbury and built by Whiting Turner, is a net zero building; it is powered by 1,950 solar panels, installed on rooftops across the campus. 

The Massey Center is also one of ten finalists for the 2020 Leadership Awards of the state's U.S. Green Building Council. USGBC Virginia will announce winners during its annual Leadership Awards Program on June 25, which will be a virtual event this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Among the other finalists are three buildings at University of Virginia and the Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation Administration Building. 

“Sustainable design is always the responsibility of good designers," said Mr. Rob Reis, principal at Hanbury and lead architect for the Massey Center and the major new addition to the Lower School. “However, the opportunity to inform and raise awareness in emerging generations through building design is an exponentially compounding investment in our future."

The James B. Massey Jr. Leadership Center, named for an influential headmaster who led Norfolk Academy from 1950 into the modern era, is a constantly bustling hub for study and classroom learning that connects the Upper and Middle Schools. It was built with funds raised through the school's Defining Leadership campaign, a comprehensive initiative completed in 2019 that raised funds for new construction, endowment, and scholarships.

The glass doors and expansive floor-to-ceiling windows provide ample natural light and invite students and faculty to gain inspiration from Nature, even when working inside. The Center has flexible study areas that can be modified to easily accommodate an intimate group or a large gathering; all of the learning spaces feature big screens and some have whiteboard walls. 

 A new courtyard, featuring an abundance of plants native to Virginia and several large boulders, can serve as a space for gatherings. Plants in the courtyard and in urban planters at the front of the building are part of a rainwater filtration system. 

Mr. Reis observed, “The Massey Center reflects the future in learning environments and sustainable design while dynamically engaging students in their impact as stewards of the environment.”

 Other features of the building that spotlight sustainability include the high use of recycled and regionally sourced and low-emitting materials that significantly reduce off-gassing; LED lighting throughout with motion sensors; an energy-efficient HVAC System; and low flow and hands-free plumbing fixtures. Also, construction waste was managed to meet recycling and proper sustainable disposal protocols.

While many of the building's environmental features are not immediately visible to users, its energy efficiency can be monitored. Three touch-panel kiosks are installed in high activity spots on campus, allowing students to see in real-time the amount of energy that is being generated and utilized, not just in the Massey Center, but also across the entire campus. 

The Massey Leadership Center expresses the school’s commitment to teaching about global environmental sustainability, said Headmaster Dennis Manning. “Sustainability is a long-term commitment for our school."

James B. Massey Jr. Portrait in lobby

The lobby of the Massey Leadership Center has a portrait of James B. Massey Jr., who served as headmaster from 1950-78.

Study Area

Study areas in the Massey Leadership Center include flexible design, screens, and wall space that doubles as a whiteboard. 

Courtyard in Massey Center

The new courtyard, which features plant species native to Virginia, contributes to the overall sustainability of the building. Floor to ceiling windows and glass doors throughout the Massey Center allow natural light and invite a connection to nature.

Massey Leadership Center study area

The Massey Center connects the Middle and Upper Schools, serving as a crossroads of the campus.

Massey Leadership Center

The Massey Center is a “net zero" building with power supplied entirely by an array of solar panels on rooftops across the campus. That feature was a significant factor in the building's LEED Gold certification.

Massey Leadership Center exterior

The Massey Leadership Center opens onto the Kennon Forum, known to one and all as “The Pit," a popular gathering spot on campus. The front of the building features the school seal. 

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