The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 9, 2009

School Building Committee presents design ideas

Carlisle School Building Committee Chair Lee Storrs presents the proposed plans for a new school addition at an information session held after Town Meeting on Monday night. (Photo by Jane Hamilton)
Proposed site plan for the Carlisle School addition. (Photo by Jane Hamilton)

HMFH architect Laurel Wernick provided a computer-generated drawing showing a new two-story school building (center front) linking the Corey (left) and Wilkins buildings providing a centralized entrance and lobby for the school. (Photo by Jane Hamilton)

After Town Meeting on Monday, October 5, the Carlisle School Building Committee (SBC) and Laurel Wernick, principal of HMFH Architects presented a proposed plan for the school project. A new building on the plaza would replace Spalding, tying the campus together and providing a new front entrance to the school. Audience members greeted the proposal agreeably, but with some questions.

SBC Chair Lee Storrs reminded the assemblage that this year’s Spring Town Meeting had allocated $450,000, (40% reimbursement to come from MSBA) toward a schematic design. The design is to include replacing Spalding, providing needed repairs (new roofs, windows, and air handlers) for retained buildings, renovating and repurposing existing buildings and providing site modifications. The building replacing Spalding will contain pre-K to grade 2 classes as well as administration and support for those grades.

The SBC has signed funding agreements with MSBA and has finalized contracts with the architects and the Owners Project Manager (OPM). Storrs noted $347,000 in contracts have been signed to date, and it is expected the design phase will be completed at or under budget. Public forums are planned as the process develops, with a goal of presenting an article at Spring 2010 Town Meeting. If the article passes, bids will be solicited in the fall of 2010 with construction starting in winter 2011. The project would be targeted for completion by fall 2012.

Preliminary HMFH design of the first floor of the proposed new school building. The first floor would house one classroom for pre-K and four for kindergarten. The second floor would include eight classrooms divided between first and second grades. Additonal plans are available on the school building committee


Wenick of HMFH presented an early-stages concept plan, noting that some questions about integration and flow are not yet analyzed. A key question, she said, is “How to build while leaving Spalding intact” so that students can continue classes. She also pointed to needed improvements to the entry experience.

She proposed a new building in front of the Corey cafeteria that would connect to Wilkins and Corey while providing a new entryway and lobby. A student coming from the parking lot would pass through a narrow courtyard between Corey and the new building to enter a lobby. From School Street, a visitor would be directed along a pathway to the lobby from that side of the building (see drawing, above right). “This will be a central entrance point for the entire campus.” She noted that students would no longer need to go outside to get from building to building, and an elevator would provide handicapped accessibility to Corey, Wilkins and the new building.

The space freed in existing buildings would be used for other purposes. Administration would move into the Robbins Building, which would also house a new multi-purpose room. School choral programs would use the multi-purpose room, which would have an exterior entrance so it could be used by the public without disrupting classes. The multi-purpose room would be fully wireless with white board and other technology, and could be divided in two. Science and engineering labs would occupy the area where pre-K now resides.

Once classes move into the new building, the old Spalding Building would be demolished. This would open up space for a play area. Additional short-term and handicapped parking would be provided off School Street and changes would be made to bus patterns to free up additional spots in the main parking lots. The site plan is still sketchy, Wenick noted, and “We’re eager to hear any thoughts or questions.”

Bill Risso of the SBC noted that green methods and materials will be used where possible. He said life-cycle costs will be analyzed before implementing any green technology. While the project will not meet all LEED program requirements for energy efficiency and sustainable building design, Wenick noted that all HMFH architects are LEED-certified.The building will be oriented to make maximum use of solar energy and daylight, and displacement ventilation will reduce energy use. Water-efficient fixtures and low-flush toilets are planned. The project will try to meet “stretch” building codes which are 25 to 30% more efficient than standard.

An audience member said the courtyard entrance seemed “dark and not inviting at all.” Wenick noted that because Corey is one-story, more light will enter the courtyard than it may appear. Observation at bus drop-off had confirmed that most students go up the stairs and arrive at that area, and the plan would keep that flow. Visitors entering from School Street would not enter the courtyard, but would have a separate entrance into the lobby.

Beth Clarke of Log Hill Road wondered if the narrow courtyard outside the new building would introduce too much noise from walk-through traffic. Wenick admitted this had not really been considered, but most traffic would be at the beginning and end of the day. However, it was noted the middle school would be leaving for buses while elementary classes are still in session.

Other questions concerned play area, art spaces, icy stairways, use of solar energy and recycling. “I love the plan and love the school,” said one abutter, requesting that enough money be reserved for landscaping to offer “a sense of community.” Wenick said she will consider audience comments as the plan develops.

Wendell Sykes of the SBC noted construction is expected to remain below the $20 million expected. MSBA is expected to pick up 40%, although the multi-purpose room has not been confirmed for reimbursement.

Risso invited interested townspeople to attend meetings of the SBC. “We can always use new thoughts.” Dates and times are on the website Feedback can be mailed to ∆



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