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Tag: Learning Commons

At Every Step…

…We are reminded that the school project is a complicated renovation. Along the way, lessons have been learned and are being applied to the second phase of construction. Here is one highly visible example:

When the Middle School was renovated, the existing exterior walls were preserved in many places. Because we are super-insulating the school, it was crucial to carefully apply a vapor barrier on the entire exterior of the building (a.k.a. building envelope). The project team quickly realized that the condition of the existing walls did not provide the high-quality surface needed for the vapor barrier to work properly. After several solutions were explored, the construction team decided to “parge” the exterior of the Middle School. Essentially, a skim coat was applied to the entire building envelope to create a smooth surface. This work required a lot of time and a significant dip into the project’s contingency funds.

That is why the exterior of the Primary School was demolished. New walls will be built incorporating the insulation and vapor barrier required to meet our sustainability goals. This meant using some contingency funds up front for the increase in demolition. The result will provide long-term value to the project.

What will it look like in a year? Looking at the shell and gaping holes in the building, it is hard to remember what it will look like when it is complete in the Fall of 2022.

  • The empty space where the original building was demolished will make way for the new main entrance, the Learning Commons, a new 3rd-grade classroom neighborhood, the central Administrative suite, and a new Media Center.
  • The remaining buildings will be renovated to hold grades preK-2.
Rendering of Learning Commons and Entrance
Outside Administrative Suite, looking into K-4 Science Room

More Information!

  • Click here to see demolition videos.
  • Click here to see the slide deck from the 9/13 SBC meeting.
  • Click here to see the September photo gallery.

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.

Interior Design…Blending Old and New

On Wednesday SMMA presented the plans for interior materials and colors. As they developed the palette, they drew on the surrounding landscape for inspiration:

One of the interesting challenges in designing the interior is finding a way to update the building’s look while working with existing cabinetry, walls, and tiles that are being reused. The slide below shows photos of two current elementary classrooms:

The floors will be replaced, but as a cost saving measure the cabinets will remain. To work with these colors, SMMA is proposing the following materials:

Below are images that show how the school will be transformed! To see the whole presentation, click here.

 

See the Latest Design Updates!

At last Wednesday’s meeting, EwingCole and SMMA shared the latest updates to both interior and exterior designs for the center part of the school. The presentation (which can be seen in its entirety here) included:

  • Light studies of the Learning Commons: The Learning Commons have an east to west orientation, and light control is important in the early morning and late afternoon. The SBC reviewed two options for exterior shading, and chose the horizontal fin screen pictured in the images. There will also be internal shades to allow light to be blocked out for presentations.
  • Exterior studies of building materials.
  • Interior studies of the new Media Center and the corridor that will connect the Learning Commons to the Smith end of the building (the “K – 4 Gallery”).

Upcoming Meetings:

  • May 28th: Planning Board, 7pm, Town Offices. This is the initial review of the plan for the modulars. The Conservation Committee approved the plans on May 22nd.
  • June 5th: School Building Committee, 7pm, Hartwell.
  • June 11th: Planning Board, 7pm, Town Offices. Final hearing and vote to approve the plan for the modulars.

 

Design Updates…

The design team is continuing to work through a myriad of site plan, systems, and design details. Following are some updated images that were shown at Wednesday’s meeting.  To see the entire slide deck, click here.

Below is a view of the current site showing the latest thinking about the location and configuration of the temporary school and parking lot (inside the red circle). Once the final contract has been awarded for the modular units, the construction schedule will be updated, and we will begin to share information about what we can all expect when we drive onto the campus after the 4th of July.


Upcoming meetings:

  • April 3rd, Power Purchase Agreement Subcommittee, 7:30am, Hartwell multipurpose room.
  • April 10th, School Building Committee, 7:00pm, Hartwell multipurpose room.
  • April 11th, Outreach Subcommittee, 11:00am, Hartwell multipurpose room.
  • April 22nd, Site Subcommittee, 9:00am, Hartwel multipurpose room.

Update from Town Meeting 2019

For the first time in…a long time…there was no school project presentation or vote at Town Meeting. However, there were two warrant articles with ties to the project:

  • Property Tax Study Committee: In February, the Selectmen (BOS) appointed the Study Committee, which is charged with examining existing tax abatement/deferral programs, determining unmet needs, investigating other possible programs, and making recommendations to the BOS. Click here to see the slides from Town Meeting.
  • Solar Bylaw: Lincoln first adopted a solar bylaw about a decade ago. Since then, both photovoltaic (PV) technology and the financial arrangements for installing PV panels have changed. Town Meeting voted to amend the current solar bylaw to allow residents, businesses, and the Town to enter into power purchase agreements (PPAs). This was a critical vote for the school project, and it was approved virtually unanimously. To learn more about how the bylaw was changed, visit the FAQ page on the Town website.

This Week’s SBC Meeting: The SBC will meet on Wednesday, March 27th @ 7:00pm, Hartwell multipurpose room. The agenda includes:

  • Review site and floor plans
  • Review exterior elevations
  • Review HVAC systems
  • Review monthly budget update
  • Review updated modulars plan (temporary classrooms)

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.

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