The City of Boston Planning and Facilities Department hosted a meeting to cover the design concept and plans for the rebuild set to take place at the Eliot Innovation School, located at 585 Commercial Street in Boston’s North End. The presentation went into depth about the goal to convert the current office building into a vibrant and interactive learning environment. The school will house students in grades 2 – 4, with a capacity for 432 students. Planning to open for school in the Fall 2019, the total project will consume 2 years worth of construction.
Classrooms will be reconfigured with acoustics and innovative “teaching nooks,” geared toward creating an attractive school to stimulate a positive learning environment. Whether it is the art room or media classrooms, every classroom in the school will have windows, providing natural daylight, along with the colorful interior walls to make the surroundings fun and up-lifting. The goal of teaching nooks is to provide a high engagement atmosphere that promotes participation through a more informal classroom setting.
The entrance to the building will be completely refigured, pushing the front door further back with a plaza in front of the entrance to help with safety concerns, while also aiding the pathway of the Harborwalk. The three story building will have a multi-purpose cafeteria on the harbor side of the ground floor. Furthermore, the entire exterior design will be reimagined with materials, paint, and overall design.
Mechanical upgrades will be made to:
- Air conditioning system
- Exterior siding
- New roof
- New elevator
- Improvements to the fire stairs
Sustainability features will be installed throughout the project, including storm water retention underneath the parking lot, alternative fuel vehicle parking stations, and a light reflecting roof. Light fixtures attached to the wall will turn off during daylight, bringing down operating costs. All light fixtures will be LED, and the plumbing will feature instant hot water with high efficiency boilers, and low water use fixtures throughout the interior.
The parking lot will be used for staging, and storage of equipment during construction, which will help decrease disruption in the neighborhood. Construction on the building will start once the North Bennet Street School is ready to house the students. Currently, the NBSS is expecting a weathertight enclosure within the next month which will allow the interior construction to accelerate.
When the floor was opened for questions, concerns were raised over the preparation for rising tides, hurricanes, and extreme weather. Parents sought some form of clouding/dimming system for privacy and security for the first floor windows along Commercial Street. Did the design provide enough green space for the students and could a garden be added?
The subject of ventilation and air conditioning was a major concern. Gregory Rideout, Senior Project Manager for the City of Boston Property and Construction Management Department, emailed NorthEndWaterfront.com to clarify the situation with A/C and ventilation:
“We are writing to clarify misinformation with regard to air circulation and cooling for the building. After the meeting, the team reviewed our project documents and confirmed that we do indeed have AC units on the roof to supply conditioned air to the building. We apologize for the confusion.
As we mentioned, Mayor Walsh has allocated an additional $4.5 million to our project budget to offset some of the functional requirements of the building in order to keep the many state-of-the-art programmatic offerings in the project. This additional funding will go a long way toward renovating this building in a way that will support the innovative educational program offered at your school.
Thank you again for your participation, we highly value your interest in the project, and hope for your continued support.”
Please view the video above for the complete presentation and discussion. An external rendering from the meeting is shown below.