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Honoring our History

Honoring Our History…(and this week’s meeting is on Tuesday)

Honoring Our History…Building Our Future. This statement has been at the head of every blog post since 2017, but how does it really relate to the project? Since the beginning of the project, the School Building Committee (SBC) has collaborated with about a dozen town boards and departments, and this work has helped to shape a project that serves our educational goals and advances the town’s commitment to sustainability, while reflecting the history of the building and the campus.

One of the SBC’s partners throughout the process has been the Lincoln Historical Commission (LHC).  The LHC is the town board that administers Lincoln’s “Demolition Delay Bylaw” (article XXI of the town’s bylaws) which requires every building project that includes demolition to meet with the LHC to determine 1) whether the structure has historical, architectural, or cultural significance; and if so, 2) whether the structure is “preferably preserved.” The LHC worked with the SBC to understand the architectural significance of the Lincoln School and to think about how to incorporate that history into the renovation.

To mark the transition from the first phase of the project to the second, we invited Andrew Glass, chair of the LHC, to write about the ways the renovated building pays tribute to its innovative history while creating a learning environment that will serve our students for decades to come.

Sunshades on middle school; view towards dining commons.

The Lincoln School:  Smith Building and Brook Building Complexes

Lincoln residents and architects Lawrence B. Anderson (1906-1994) and Henry B. Hoover (1902-1989) made significant contributions to Modern architecture in Lincoln.  Dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Anderson, with his firm Anderson & Beckwith, designed several buildings for the Lincoln School campus, including the Smith complex from 1947 through the early 1950s and the Hartwell building in 1957.  Hoover designed more than three dozen Modern houses and municipal buildings in Lincoln, including, in 1937, Lincoln’s first Modern house.  With his firm Hoover & Hill, Hoover also designed several buildings for the Lincoln School campus, including the three Hartwell pods between 1959 and 1964 and the Brooks complex between 1963 and 1964.  

The oldest part of the Lincoln School, the Smith Building complex was one of the earliest school buildings in the nation to incorporate Modern design principles. Architectural Forum recognized the innovative qualities of the complex in an August 1950 article, which can be found here. As noted by the Architectural Forum, these qualities include:

  • The transparency between the interior and exterior of the building achieved through the use of continuous bands of fenestration (windows); 
  • Careful attention to how daylight enters the building, including through use of a sunshield between the lower and clerestory windows, which served to shade the lower windows from low-angle morning sun and reflect light up to the interior ceiling through the clerestory; 
  • The use of long bar-shaped classroom buildings to create an encompassing gesture around the Center Field; and
  • The use of acoustical tiles to reduce noise reverberation in the classrooms. 

Hoover’s Brooks Building complex built on these Modern design principles.  In creating the auditorium, he used innovative acoustical “clouds” to help direct sound to the back of the theater.  Hoover was a master of integrating the landscape into his designs, which is reflected in the close connection of each classroom to the exterior and in the creation of a courtyard in the Brooks Building complex.

For the current project, architectural firms SMMA and EwingCole are restoring much of the Smith Building complex and all of the Brooks Building complex, working within the Modern design principles developed by Anderson and Hoover.  

  • Drawing on Anderson’s and Hoover’s legacy of the innovative use of technologies, the revitalized Lincoln School will be an all-electric, net zero building. To reduce heat load and solar glare in the classrooms, the design restores the use of sunshields as pioneered by Anderson.  The filtered light will also reduce the need to rely on artificial lighting within classrooms.  
  • Interestingly, because in the 1940s the Town chose to build a more costly gable roof rather than the shed roof proposed by Anderson, the Town opted not to build the dedicated cafeteria and kitchen that Anderson recommended.  The revitalized School has a dedicated cafeteria and kitchen for the first time, the design of which draws on Anderson’s legacy of using continuous bands of fenestration and clerestory windows to create connections to the outdoors and to provide abundant natural daylight within the building.  
  • Replacing the oldest portion of the Smith Building complex, the design for the new main entrance and Learning Commons also honors Anderson’s Modern design principles using transparent materials and sunshields.
  • Anderson’s gymnasium and Hoover’s classrooms with their innovative use of wooden beams will be restored for decades more use by students.  
  • Honoring Hoover’s legacy of innovative open-plan interior spaces and close connections to the exterior, the revitalized School contains “hub” learning spaces for grades 3 through 8.  Classrooms are arranged around a central common space promoting a neighborhood feeling among the teachers and students of a grade.  Easily-operable glass partitions between the classrooms and the hub allow teachers and students to create larger or smaller learning spaces to suit the needs of students’ varying learning styles and allow the landscape to be seen well within the interior of the building. 
  • The Dining Commons, Learning Commons, and Media Center will open directly onto outdoor terraces that will serve as outdoor learning spaces and community gathering areas during non-school hours. (Note: The construction of the Learning Commons in phase 2 required the demolition of the oldest Smith building. Click here to see videos showing the building before, during and after demolition!)
  • Finally, the School Project has restored the Auditorium, including the innovative acoustical clouds.  The Town will enjoy many years of comfort at Town Meeting and performances in the newly renovated space!

The LHC appreciates SMMA’s and EwingCole’s sensitive renovation of the Smith and Brooks buildings and the creative incorporation of Modern design principles into the revitalization project. – Andrew Glass

This week’s SBC meeting is being held on Tuesday, September 14th at 7:00pm via Zoom. Agenda and link can be found here.

Glass partitions in hub; view through to the outdoors.

August SBC Meeting

Demolition work – looking east from the Smith playing fields.

The SBC will meet virtually on Wednesday, August 11th at 7:00pm. Agenda and Zoom information can be found here. The new August photo gallery is here.

Why the demolition? The oldest section of the building was demolished to prepare for the construction of the new 3rd grade wing, Learning Commons, and Media Center. The classrooms in the left of the photo will be renovated. The image below shows the floor plan of this section of the building.

An End and a Beginning…

Although about 75% of the school project is renovation work, there are a couple of parts that are all-new construction. One is the new connector between the Auditorium and the Reed Gym (image above). The other will be the construction of the new Learning Commons and central entrance (click here to see a rendering). As the first phase of the project winds down, the second phase begins. This week, after school is finished for the year, the original 1948 portion of the school will be demolished to make way for the new section of the building (see the area below circled in red).

Other notable items:

  • Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the project will overlap. Throughout the summer the finishing touches will be put on the renovated middle school (Phase 1). It is anticipated that final inspections will be completed by mid-August, and then the teachers will begin moving in and preparing for the 2021-2022 school year!
  • Meanwhile, the middle school teachers have begun packing up their classrooms, and once school lets out on Monday the “Smith” end of the building will be emptied out in preparation for renovation/new construction (Phase 2). Primary school teachers and students will stay in the temporary school next year.
  • The SBC got its monthly project update last Wednesday, and continues to oversee the project costs and progress. Click here for slides from the meeting. June photo gallery is here.
  • The bike/pedestrian path that will lead from the Hartwell parking lot to the middle school and the pool is under construction. Check out the photo below!
Laying the foundation for the bike/pedestrian path around the parking lot.

We could always “Count” on Steven…

It is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of Steven Perlmutter, and with immense gratitude that we remember the many contributions, both silly and serious, that he made to the School Building Project.

Steven became involved in the Lincoln School building project in 2013 when he volunteered to serve on the School Building Advisory Committee. What started as a 1-year commitment became an 8-year journey as he helped multiple committees to pull the community together and get us where we are today. In addition to his willingness to wear a giant “Count” costume during the 2017 4th of July parade, there were numerous ways we could “count” on Steven:

  • We could count on him to ask really probing questions.
  • We could count on him to emphasize the beauty of the school campus and the grandeur of its trees.
  • We could count on him to reach out to people in the community to understand their points of view about the project.
  • We could count on him to press hard for clarity of message and simplicity of presentation.
  • We could count on him to read the minutes very, very carefully.
  • And as we neared the December 2018 vote, we could count on him to be the project’s biggest cheerleader – “Time to put the pedal through the metal, everyone!”

For our part, Steven’s family and friends can count on the fact that Steven will always be part of our heart. We miss you, Steven.

Duct and Cover…

Power outages are always an exciting topic of conversation in Lincoln and the school is a not-infrequent victim of branches falling on the wires that run between the road and the school. One very important aspect of the building project is that the electric lines are being buried under ground. This work has begun, most noticeably along the road between the center field and Hartwell.

With Deep Gratitude…

Because of a very generous gift from an anonymous donor, we will be able to restore the plan to build the courtyard outside of the Learning and Dining Commons. The design includes three large benches that will be made from several salvaged oak trees from Ballfield Road and from granite pieces that are on Lincoln conservation land. The SBC is very excited that the courtyard has been reinstated into the project! It will become a wonderful school and community asset.

We don’t mean to “drone” on…

…but we hope you’ll enjoy this aerial view of the construction site that was provided to us by our Owner’s Project Manager. They plan to take videos on a monthly basis, so stay tuned for more as we all watch the progress! More project photos are here.

Next (Virtual) SBC Meeting: Wednesday, September 16th @7:00pm.

Preserving History

The crew carefully removed the butterfly weathervane…

…and stored it in a padded box. At the end of the project, it will be installed near the new central entrance (You might see it on your walk back to the Codman Pool).

The commemorative bricks that were located behind Smith near the green playground have been protected and will be re-installed in a more visible location toward the end of the project.


Other News:

  • The most recent 6-week look-ahead construction schedule can be found here.
  • The next virtual SBC meeting is on Wednesday, August 12th at 7:00pm.
  • SBC Outreach will take a blog post break for a few weeks. New construction photos will get posted periodically to the July Gallery.

Honoring our History…

As the SBC and design team work through the Design Development phase, there are discussions about the preservation and reinstallation of historic elements such as the butterfly weathervane and the bell from the deCordova estate. In addition, the committee is considering ways to salvage some materials from the demolition process for reuse in the building. Here are some examples:

  • deCordova Bell: The current proposal is to install the bell in the new Reed Gym connector. This is an area that will be visible to the community during events in the gym and/or the Auditorium.
  • Butterfly Weathervane: Given the scale of the weathervane, an outdoor location is probably most appropriate. The image shows some possible locations.
  • Wood Flooring from the Smith stage: The design team is proposing using the flooring from the Smith stage as an architectural accent in the Learning Commons.

…Building our Future

This was the last SBC meeting before the Design Development drawings and specifications are sent out for the next round of cost estimates (cost estimates will be reviewed at the April 10, 2019 meeting). Many details are being worked through, such as the layout of the new kitchen & dining commons. SMMA’s kitchen consultant is continuing to collaborate with the administrative team, including the Director of Food Services.  They are thinking about issues such as the ease of refilling food displays, height of the check out lines for our younger students, and orientation of the serving and check out lines for maximum efficiency. Here is the latest plan:

Also at the last meeting, the SBC heard an overview of the instructional technology plan. This includes the network infrastructure, presentation tools for classrooms and large spaces, and safety and communication equipment. The plan is to build on our current systems and tools, and do our best to “future proof” our technology. This means building in the flexibility to upgrade and replace sytems and equipment as they change over time.

And in the short term…

The SBC saw the latest iteration of the planned layout for the temporary school that will be built on the center field. Preparations for installation of the modulars are expected to begin after July 4th.

The link to the entire presentation can be found here.

Next Meeting: Wednesday, March 27th, 7:00pm, Hartwell multipurpose room.

This is a Community Project

Over the past 19 months, the Lincoln School project has been forged by the willingness of residents with a wide range of values, priorities, expertise, opinions, and viewpoints to come together to try to collaboratively solve an incredibly complex problem. The goal of the SBC has been to create a process and a platform for individual ideas to be heard and to give direction to its work. In June, we presented 5 viable ways to move forward, and our community made a group decision, in an unprecedented way, about which project best balanced those priorities and delivered the most value for the investment.

At the end of that Special Town Meeting, an overwhelming majority chose the project known as “L3.” The clarity of the vote was due to the fact that many people, with many ideas, were willing to passionately champion their values while demonstrating their willingness to compromise; finding a balance among multiple needs and interests.

The result is a project that is a reflection of resident values; it is “ours,” as a town, in every sense of the word.

What did it take to get to this point?

When we started this process, many challenged us to go beyond a school that is “safe, warm, and dry” and to focus on transforming the educational environment. They noted that the neighborhood model of classrooms, which supports how our educators teach (with future flexibility), would be easiest to achieve in a new, more compact building – not one with classrooms strung out along a long corridor.

Many residents focused on the opportunity to live up to the green energy goals LIncoln set for itself a decade ago, when the town voted to adopt a fossil fuel reduction standard for its public buildings. They focused our attention on “energy use intensity,” the importance of a well-insulated building, new heating & cooling technologies, and the need to generate electricity on site in order to further reduce our carbon footprint. This would be easiest to achieve with new construction.

Others drew our attention to the deep historical ties the town has to the Ballfield Road site. It was the home of the Lincoln Mohawks baseball team in the first half of the 20th century, and where the town regularly gathered in the grand stands. The Lincoln School itself was designed by two Lincoln-resident modern architects, Lawrence Anderson and Henry Hoover. They helped transform school architecture by providing ample access to natural light, connections to the outdoors, and moveable (dare we say flexible?) furniture that wasn’t bolted to the floor. Many residents saw the important connection of the current building to our town’s history, and wanted to ensure that we re-used as much of it as possible and preserved the integrity of the campus.

The Lincoln School is an important center of the community, and many emphasized its role in our recreational and civic life. They placed a high value on retaining both of our full-sized gyms and the Auditorium.

And everyone wanted to ensure that the project would provide good long-term value for the up-front cost – while being mindful of the immediate impact on the community.

As is quickly apparent, it is not easy to reconcile all of these priorities – but there was a lot of determination! As a result of the creativity of our design team and our committee, and a high level of community participation in the process, we all decided that L3 did the best job of drawing all of those interests together.

On Saturday, we will come together to test that hypothesis.

We know that people will come to the meeting looking at the project through different lenses and their own set of experiences. While we all listen to the presentations and the ensuing debate, the following questions might serve as a framework:

  • What is the impact of our decision on future generations of educators and learners?
  • When we look back in 10 or 20 years, will we have made a wise choice?
  • Have we successfully balanced the values of our community? – Education, environmental stewardship, respect for our history and civic life, and fiscal responsibility?
  • What is the impact of our decision on other Town priorities?

Each of us may answer these questions in different ways. We look forward to a thoughtful and thought-provoking conversation on Saturday.

Honoring our History…Environmental Stewardship

Lincoln has long been a leader in land conservation and stewardship. Over the generations, we have put land into conservation, created and maintained an extensive trail network, and inspired modern architects to build houses that meld into the landscape.

With this project, we would take a big step into the future of environmental stewardship by driving down the school’s energy consumption per square foot, switching to an all-electric heating/cooling/ventilation system, and generating energy on site. The building would be fossil-fuel free (except, for now, an emergency generator – battery storage in the future?)

To read prior blog posts that have been “tagged” under sustainability, click here.

Click here to read the Green Energy Committee’s answers to FAQs about Power Purchase Agreements.

For even more information, visit the Sustainability page of the website.

And please visit the Lincoln Green Energy Committee website!


Just for Fun!

What was the name of the semi-pro baseball team that played (and won championships!) on the center field? Click here to find out!

Remember…

…way back in March of 2017 when we were young, carefree, and just starting this process?

Sometimes, unless you are in the Lincoln School every day, it is easy to forget some of the basic reasons we are deciding, THIS SATURDAY, on a school project.

In March 2017, Town Meeting voted unanimously to release $750K that had been previously set aside for a school study, and to start again on developing a Lincoln School project. That vote indicated agreement that the condition of the school needed to be addressed. What do those basic infrastructure needs look like?

  • Big systems are at or beyond life expectancy. As a result, classrooms are often uncomfortably cold or hot, disrupting learning and impacting teaching:
    • HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) – The school does not have dehumidification or cooling except in selected areas.
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing
    • Building Envelope: roof, windows, insulation
  • There is no fire suppression system.
  • The school does not meet current snow load, structural, or seismic codes.
  • The school and the site do not meet current codes to accommodate people with disabilities.
  • Entryways do not conform to best practices either for security or energy efficiency.

To see some images, click here. Also, click on the image below to see a short video taken a couple of weeks ago in our elementary Wellness (aka Physical Education) teachers’ office.

Does that mean we’re not keeping up with maintenance? 

No. Each year we have voted as a town to fund a maintenance budget for the Lincoln Schools of about $75,000.  The town has a creative and skilled facilities maintenance team that gets the most out of that money by finding parts for obsolete equipment on eBay, making parts, and an endless array of other inventive solutions. About six years ago, for example, they re-sealed the seams on the roof to try to eke out a few more years before a project. It is worth noting that when we were working with the MSBA, which takes a dim view of towns that purposely avoid routine care, they complimented our facilities team on what they were accomplishing through basic maintenance.

Why can’t we just do this in stages?

The cost of replacing major systems means that they must be done as a capital project because they are outside the price range of the operating budget. Each year, the Capital Planning Committee gathers all the capital requests from each town agency, and works collaboratively to prioritize and do long-range planning. When the school department approached CapCom in 2002, the magnitude of the building’s needs led everyone to agree that it would be wise to do a more comprehensive study of the buildings on campus. Since 2003, multiple town committees and six independent consultants have come to the conclusion that a single project is 1) most cost effective; and 2) least disruptive to our children’s education.

  • Because building-wide systems need to be replaced, there is no area of the school that will be untouched. As a one-school town, there is no other place to house students while work is being done, and it is too extensive to complete over summers or vacations.
  • It does not make sense to do the same work twice, i.e. open up the walls to replace the heating system, and then go back and open up the walls to replace the electrical or plumbing systems.
  • Doing extensive work requires us to bring the building up to current safety, accessibility, and structural codes.
  • We want to minimize the time students and teachers are operating in a construction zone.

On June 9th, the Town considered a $49M option that would have addressed the building’s basic needs. In the first round of voting, almost 96% of those at Town Meeting rejected that solution and chose one of the other project concepts that went beyond repair and addressed additional needs.

Over these final few days before Saturday’s vote, we will try to condense and revisit information that has been shared over the past months.  If you have questions, please write a comment or contact the SBC.

Thank you!

-The Outreach Team


Just for Fun:  What is “Budget Falls”?

  • A.  The latest Wall Street exposé by Michael Lewis.
  • B.  A thriller set in an abandoned mill town.
  • C.  What the students named the plastic tarp catching the leaks in the Brooks Hallway.

Click here for the answer!

 

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