Friday, August 28, 2009
Architects tour CCHS, gather renovation wish lists
Roughly 20 architects from interested firms learned first-hand about the Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) buildings during a walk-through led by CCHS Principal Peter Badalament and members of the CCHS Facilities Master Plan Committee on August 17.
As one of the first steps in understanding high school renovation needs, the master plan committee has published a Request For Proposal (RFP) for the study of the facility. Industry interest has been high and as of mid-August, the RFP had been distributed to three dozen firms. Most of the companies are from Massachusetts, several from Boston and a few from Connecticut. Several are firms that have worked on school plans in the past in the two towns such as HMFH and SMMA.
During the walk-through, Badalament and others shared their views on the facility’s short-comings and ideas for enhancements. For instance, it was noted that the front entrance is not obvious to visitors and once in the building, the location of the main office is not obvious.
Overall layout issues
The footprint of the high school facility is particularly difficult, Badalament explained. With 54 doors, it is neither secure nor energy-efficient. He commented that the breezeways between buildings are unreasonable for the winter climate, while the one that is enclosed suffers from leaks and birds living in that space. With so many doors, Badalament said, “The building is porous,” and extremely difficult to lock down. It’s impossible to monitor all those portals.
The offices for health services and guidance department are far away from the administrative offices. Badalament said it would be very helpful to have all of these offices located together, since there are frequent meetings of people from each of these areas. He also said that more room was needed for the Special Education Program. If there was more space, more programs could be developed to keep students within the school district rather than have them placed outside the district, which is very costly.
Cafeteria, auditorium and library
The cafeteria seats 400, less than half of the student population of roughly 1,260. Seniors of good standing have off-campus privileges which allow them to go out for lunch, which offsets the lack of room in the cafeteria. Badalament said he would like to see the cafeteria air-conditioned.
Badalament said the auditorium, which seats 450 to 500, is also too small for a school this size. “It is difficult to seat two classes in here. We need an auditorium that seats 600.” He said the room had antiquated lighting technology and suggested that if it was renovated, the regional school district could rent it out.
“The library could use better access to technology,” said Badalament. Space for students to work together on projects would also be beneficial. A great deal of space is dedicated to ramps in this room, yet none meet ADA guidelines.
With increasing technology in the classroom, a shortage of electrical outlets in the school was a common theme, along with the need for spaces for collaborative projects for both students and faculty. Badalament also said a few quiet spaces for teachers, such as carrels, would also be helpful.
“We have over 90% utilization of classrooms,” Badalament told the architects. He explained how difficult scheduling classes were, particularly with the shortage of science lab rooms. “We have two chemistry labs and they are overbooked…It would be helpful to have double classrooms for science.” Badalament explained that this would allow teachers to set up labs early and it would be easy to move students from the classroom to the lab. The present classrooms incorporate lab areas but the space is considered to be too small. More storage is desired as well. Also, heavy classroom utilization makes it difficult for a teacher to prepare a lab space early.
Badalament showed the touring architects the two trailers that have been added to somewhat offset the lack of office space and classrooms. He added that he preferred not to have mobiles (trailers) on campus.
Badalament pointed out that the H-building, which houses the social studies and English departments lacks a sufficient number of classrooms and faculty rooms are cramped. He noted the advantages of the little theater, a place where two to three classes can come together for presentations, and would like to see several more areas of that size available to faculty and students.
Physical education spaces
In the upper gym, Badalament pointed out the minimal “run-out” room, the distance behind the basketball hoop to the wall. He would like to see a wider run-out area. In addition, he would prefer that the bleachers in the upper gym accommodated more students and the fitness center was larger. Also, the health and fitness department could use another teaching station.
The architects toured the boys locker room where Badalament pointed out the large amount of wasted space for the showers that no one uses anymore. Also, there is no locker room for visiting teams. As an aside, Badalament pointed out that the lower gym is designated as an emergency shelter for the Town of Concord, but there is no generator hooked up to maintain that area in an emergency.
The architects toured the I-building which used to house industrial arts classes. The space is now being used for several purposes: by the radio station WIQH; community access cable television CCTV; the art department for sculpture, architecture and for a 3-D rendering multi-media lab; for a hands-on physics lab and the new science enrichment lab which is still being set up. There is storage here for drama production and the chorus, but it is far away from the fine arts area which is near the auditorium. Badalament said, “Storage is at a premium.”
Fine arts area
While in the band room, Badalament told the group that the room was too small for the large band program and there was also need for more space to store instruments. He asked for three ensemble spaces, one for orchestra, one for band and one for chorus. “It is very crowded and hot in here,” Badalament told the architects.
The architects then toured the art department space near the auditorium. Badalament told them that if they had more space, more students could participate in art classes. He also said he was concerned about the air quality in this area as this space had not been designed to ventilate the smells from art materials and chemicals used for art.
A week earlier, on August 12, Art Department Chair Joe Pickman spoke to the Master Plan Committee about ideas for renovated art spaces. “We want to continue what we have and in no way diminish the program,” said Pickman. The art program had gained national recognition since Carlisle junior Victoria Abel received the Certificate of Congressional Recognition, winning the Congressional Art Competition in June. Her abstract is hanging in the U.S. Capitol for one year. Pickman continued, “Art is becoming the umbrella for other disciplines.”
Pickman wants a gallery near the front door so all that come through see the art. “We want it to be a centerpiece for the school,” said Pickman. “Our classrooms are spread across buildings. We want them unified together.”
Space is a major issue. Pickman would like a new and larger dark room. “This one is so old,” and the number of students that can use it is limited. “We could teach more students if we had more space.” Students are turned away now.
Pickman also pointed out the need for storage space, not just for artwork, but also for the special tools used in each art class. ∆
© 2009 The