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Lemberg Center will move into a new home

Contributing Writer

Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 00:09

Lemberg

Courtesy of Brandeis University/DW Arthur Associates Architecture, Inc.

Sketches of the new Lemberg Children’s Center, to be built on Old South Street, have already been completed.

The Lemberg Children’s Center, currently located at Lemberg Hall next to the Brown Social Science Center, will move to a new building in late winter or early spring, according to Howard Baker, executive director of the center. The new center will be on a large area of land between Old South Street and South Street, facing Gordon Field.

Today, there will be a groundbreaking ceremony at the construction area. Baker said that University President Frederick Lawrence will open the ceremony.

Baker said that he expects the mayor of Waltham, Jannette McCarthy, to attend, as well as Massachusetts State Sen. Mike Barrett and two state representatives for Waltham, John Lawn and Tom Stanley.

About 30 Lemberg students wearing hard hats and shovels in hand will help the honored guests make the first cuts into the soil over which the new center will stand. The ceremony will also feature songs by the children and speeches about the opening.

According to Baker, the building itself will be 6,000 square feet and is estimated to cost about 2.5 million dollars. The project is to be funded largely by the childcare tuition costs as enrollment increases. Once Lemberg moves, the Crown Center for Middle East Studies will move into Lemberg Hall.

The new building will provide various services that Lemberg Hall has been unable to host. It will have two stories and will be fully handicap accessible, according to Baker. The interior will hold six classrooms instead of the two that are currently in Lemberg Hall, as well as three smaller rooms for meetings and activities. The building will also have observation windows that look into the classrooms and a research lab.

Baker said in an interview with the Justice that the research lab was “an original feature of this facility, which we lost a long time ago because we needed space for a kitchen.”

The observation windows are intended for “anyone who wants to observe what the teachers are doing or what the children are doing in the classrooms,” he said.

Baker also envisioned expansion of the building’s functions. He discussed using the new building as an evening and weekend children’s activity center for outside events. “I was thinking it would be a great place for … classes in learning how to play various musical instruments,” as well as art, painting and dance classes taught by Brandeis students.

Lemberg sent the first proposal for the construction of a new building as early as 1980. “I have felt for a long time that we should have toddlers and young kids and that we should expand in that direction,” said Baker.

According to Baker, long waiting lists to get into Lemberg are evidence of need in the community for expansion in toddler care.

“It has been common for people to … apply to Lemberg for their two-year-old when the child hasn’t even been born,” added Baker.

Lemberg’s maximum group size of toddlers, which had already been limited by the small size of classrooms, was reduced from nine to six. This change impacted Lemberg’s ability to provide care for infants and toddlers, according to Baker.

“We found that the renovations to Lemberg Hall would be so costly that … we decided the best thing to do would be to build a new building from scratch,” said Baker. He added that support from the administration was instrumental to the project as well, particularly from Mark Collins, the vice president of administration, and Provost Steve Goldstein ’78, who helped plan funding and arranged faculty committees to review the center. 

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