At its meeting this weekend, Swarthmore College's Board of Managers will announce plans for a dynamic new building on campus that will significantly improve the facilities available for Garnet athletics, theater rehearsal space, and wellness programming. The Board will also announce two lead gifts totaling $2.5 million to support the project, including $1.5 million from Salem Shuchman '84 and spouse Barbara Klock '86.
Scheduled for completion in 2014, "The Matchbox" is a tangible result of the College's Strategic Directions plan, which calls for increased support of fitness and wellness initiatives that benefit the whole campus community.
"This beautiful new building will serve the College for many years to come," says President Rebecca Chopp. "It represents a major step forward for our entire community, especially our theater students and our athletes. We are deeply indebted to our lead donors, including 'matchbox couple' Salem Shuchman '84 and Barbara Klock '86, for their generosity, their vision, and their commitment to Swarthmore."
The new building will provide 21,000 square feet of space, nearly seven times the amount available in the popular but now overtaxed Mullan Indoor Tennis and Fitness Center. Featuring ultra-modern equipment, as well as areas for free weights and cardio training, the Matchbox will support Garnet athletics by providing appropriate space for sport-specific training. With its spacious multi-story layout and additional user-friendly equipment, the Matchbox will be a boon to the College's blossoming wellness program, providing the necessary room and accessories for popular wellness initiatives such as yoga and Pilates. And it will free up the Mullan Center - which will still host the College's indoor tennis facilities - for additional wellness activities, athletics, and physical education classes.
The needs of the College's increasingly popular theater program also took center stage in the design of the Matchbox. Today, the Theater Department requires an average of 80 hours a week for classes and rehearsals. The theater black box to be located in the new building will provide much needed additional rehearsal space in support of the College's theater curriculum. The Matchbox will also be able to accommodate small-scale performances, including staged readings and playwriting thesis projects.
Beyond fitness, wellness, and theater, the new facility's multipurpose space will make the Matchbox a popular choice for lectures, meetings, student forums, and other group gatherings, thus addressing the goal of flexibility outlined in the strategic plan. Says Board Chair Giles "Gil" Kemp '72, "The Matchbox perfectly expresses many of the goals of our strategic plan. Its space is flexible; it will promote both wellness and intentional community; and it will be constructed with sustainability concerns at the forefront." Kemp cited the Matchbox as an example of the initiatives to be supported by the College's comprehensive campaign, set to be launched next year.
The name "Matchbox" was chosen by Shuchman and Klock. The two, who were married in the College's amphitheater, are among the many over the years who as students at Swarthmore found their life partners here, leading some to dub Swarthmore College "the Quaker Matchbox." They have three children, one of whom is a current Swarthmore student.
The $2.5 million from lead donors comes in the form of a "Matchbox Challenge." From now until October 1, 2014, the lead donors will match, dollar for dollar, every donation the College receives in support of the Matchbox. The Matchbox Challenge initiative is expected to cover $5 million of the building's $5.3 million total projected cost.
"We are excited to help facilitate the construction of space on campus that will both enhance the opportunities for the community-including students, faculty and staff-to come together and also provide critically needed space for the theater department, the athletic department, and the growing fitness and wellness programs of the College," says Salem Shuchman and Barbara Klock.
Among the standout features of the Matchbox is the 5,000-square-feet community space on the top floor of the building. With scenic views of Clothier Field Stadium and the Crum Woods, the community space will be shared by athletics, wellness, and theater. The expansive space will be versatile, able to host 300 guests for a large-scale event one evening while quickly transforming into studio space for aerobic programming the next morning.
The building's loft-like interior will make its space extremely flexible, accommodating events ranging from small aerobics classes to full team practices and film study sessions. The building's glass exterior will enable it to take in passive solar energy, and an innovative monitoring system will ensure that fresh air comes into spaces based on occupancy, thus maximizing both the quality of the air and energy and economic efficiency. A recharge system will ensure that storm water does not lead to erosion in the nearby Crum Woods. Perhaps the most sustainable element of the project is its construction on the existing footprint of the old squash courts facility, an underused building next to the Lamb Miller Field House.
Shuchman is the founder and Managing Partner of Entrepreneur Partners, a Philadelphia-based private equity firm he launched in 2005. Previously, he was a senior partner at Apax Partners, a New York-based private equity firm. He rejoined the Board of Managers in 2013 after serving from 2000-12, and currently serves as Vice Chair of the Board. Shuchman also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Shuchman earned a B.A. in political science from Swarthmore and was a recipient of the Ivy Award. As one of the first Lang Scholars, he founded the housing program at the Chester Community Improvement Project, which continues today to renovate and sell homes to Chester residents.
Klock, who was also a Lang Scholar, graduated from Swarthmore with a degree in psychology. She taught elementary school for several years before going on to earn an M.D. at Yale. She's now a pediatrician at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Klock served on the College's Board of Managers from 1990-93. She serves as president of the board of the MacGuffin Theatre and Film Company, a Philadelphia based youth theater program, and is also on the board of the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia.