The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 11, 2009

School Building Committee hears architects’ design ideas

The Carlisle School Building Committee (SBC) weighed design options and reviewed project timelines when they met on September 3 with Laurel Wernick from HMFH Architects and Owner’s Project Manager (OPM) Sean Fennell. Town Meeting will be asked for final approval once schematic designs are completed for the project to replace the Spalding Building and renovate other areas of the Carlisle School campus. The total project cost is estimated at $20 million, subject to 40% state reimbursement.

Wernick reported that HMFH is reviewing and “identifying every single space in the existing building” and in the proposed addition to determine square footage. She provided a floor plan and a schematic listing the square footage for all spaces in the plan. The object is to try to remain in compliance with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) regulations, which provide funding for 700 square feet per student. Wenick reported that “we’re over the regs” and MSBA “has been pressuring us on square foot-to-gross… Are they going to get picky? We don’t know.” Fennell added, “This [total square footage] is a little less than what they’ve seen from us before. The net to gross is high because you have to solve the problem of linking so the kids don’t go outdoors.” Doyle noted that “the plan was very well received by teachers,” and Wernick said, “We’re still aiming for a November submittal [of the schematic design to the MSBA].”

Renovations to existing buildings

SBC member David Flannery noted that more people will be coming into the school to use the proposed multi-purpose room and discussion ensued about security for the room. In the present design, the multi-purpose room will be located in the Robbins Building, off corridors leading to Grade 3 classrooms and the library. Ideas about relocating central administration offices to the brick building or changing the multi-purpose room to a chorus room only ended with a review of possible funding difficulties.

Discussion of bringing the entire building up to complete ADA compliance yielded the information that some corridors and doors in the existing building are not wide enough to meet current ADA requirements. Fennell said, “Moving to complete ADA compliance may be possible if the project comes in under budget; lighting, windows and HVAC need upgrades too.” Flannery agreed, noting that these things are original to the school in some areas of the existing building. Wernick suggested that a “topic for the next meeting could be to go through a repair list and see what can be done. The roof may be a discussion point too.”

Flexible learning spaces proposed

Wernick then presented a slide show designed to demonstrate to the committee possible changes in the layout of “learning spaces” without changing the overall square footage, to provide for “acoustics, natural light, size of school, number of students per classroom, indoor air quality, ventilation and thermal comfort.” She suggested ways to promote a variety of learning styles and testing spaces, movable furniture, flexible and modular spaces interconnected with removable doors and walls, and common areas.

The question, Wernick said, is “Would the state entertain the idea of smaller classrooms with larger shared spaces? What is allowable within the constraints of our system? Massachusetts is rigid in terms of what is allowable in terms of overall square footage, but may be amenable to playing with the distribution of that square footage.” Teachers did request that the architectural firm look at the possibility of smaller “tutorial” rooms attached to larger classrooms. The SBC may tour the new Willard School in Concord, which has plans like this.

Site inspection scheduled

The SBC will plan a meeting for site issues such as ramps and dropoff areas with the landscape architect, who plans to visit the school on September 9 to observe pickup dropoff, and other landscape concerns and to make recommendations.

SBC seeks MSBA feedback

Fennell reported that he has been unable to schedule a meeting with Paul Fochs of MSBA to review the materials prepared so far by the SBC. In previous attempts, the MSBA put off the committee with requests for signed contracts, but even now that those materials are available, Fennell said, the Carlisle project is “on their back burner,” and the committee needs to “shake it up a little bit; send Paul the ‘docs’ and let him know he’s at risk of being a roadblock. If there is no response, call your legislator.” Superintendent Marie Doyle volunteered to “walk the [specs and contracts] into the MSBA office personally and try and request a meeting.”

SBC subcommittees meet

The Technology subcommittee planned a meeting for September 8 at 6 p.m. at the school with architects present, and a September 21 meeting with the town’s Technical Task Force at Town Hall at 7:30 p.m. The Project Management subcommittee reported that “contracts are signed and we are waiting for the surveyor and a few deliverables.” The Communications subcommittee will be working on public forums in about six weeks, when the SBC can show the public general site plan information. The Revenue Enhancements will meet on September 10 at 7 p.m. with David Flannery.

The next meeting of the full SBC will be on September 17. ∆

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