…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.
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.
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.
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.
Turning a building that was constructed between 1946 and 1994 into a unified, net zero building requires building super-insulated exterior walls and roofs. This work is now underway and you can see the footprint of the new outer walls. Not only does this work allow us to create the insulated exterior, it also provides a bit more interior space for the new Dining Commons and the middle school hub spaces. Click here to see the latest photos.
The SBC meets this week on Wednesday, August 12th at 7:00pm via Zoom. The agenda and Zoom link will be available here on Monday.
Over the past 18 months, the SBC has gone through several rounds of lengthy and difficult decision-making to cut costs and keep the project on budget. At each step we used our core project values to make tough choices, and through the 90% construction document phase, we were able to make cuts without impinging on those values too much.
The last round was different.
In December, the project went out to bid and the marketplace got to have its say. Now we saw the impact of a combining a complex, phased renovation with a hot construction market and changing trade policy. The bids came in $3.5M over budget. So…we rolled up our sleeves once again – February was rough! Cutting $3.5 million out of the project meant that the SBC, for the first time, needed to eliminate parts of the project that we had tried really hard to protect. Parts of the project that represent our collective community values. Values identified after years of community conversation and collaboration.
As a result, we are asking residents to approve using $829K from Free Cash to restore 8 items (below).
To quote Chris Fasciano, SBC Chair, “…the SBC is acutely aware of the pressure of the current [COVID and financial] situation and we have given this request a lot of thought. In the end, we feel the responsibility of delivering a school project that has the most long-term value for our investment. We don’t want to look back in five years and regret that we didn’t present the community with a choice about whether or not to include these pieces of the project.”
To address the Town’s sustainability goals for municipal buildings, the School Building Committee proposed, and the Town agreed, to design buildings and systems in the buildings that are powered entirely by electricity (Yes – there’s a back-up, gas-powered generator), and to provide enough solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to meet all of the building’s energy needs on an annual basis (to be net zero).
The PPA was the best route for the project because: 1) It eliminated the need to provide upfront financing for the solar PV project, and 2) the Town, as a tax-exempt entity, cannot benefit from state and federal tax incentives.
The SBC formed the PPA Subcommittee to pursue an agreement (Thank you to Buck Creel, Jim Hutchinson, Tim Christenfeld, Alex Chatfield, Ed Kern, Michael Haines, and Peter Watkinson who have been working tirelessly since the subcommittee’s formation in December 2018!).
In 2019, the PPA Subcommittee recommended SunPower Corporation to provide the solar PV system through a non-profit solar program organized by PowerOptions, Inc. The program is administered under Massachusetts G.L. c 164. PowerOptions is a nonprofit organization that has negotiated low electric and natural gas rates for the Lincoln Public Schools for many years.
Negotiations for the PPA were lengthy due to the complexity and unusually long timetable for the project, but on March 29, 2020 we signed a PPA agreement with SunPower and PowerOptions!
The currently planned solar PV system will have approximately 1.4 MW of PV panels spread across the Smith and Brooks School roofs, as well as on canopies above both Smith and Brooks parking lots, and a 500 KW battery storage system.
Collectively, the PV panels will produce approximately 1.6 million kW hours of electricity annually, meeting the electricity consumption needs projected by the school architects, and the annual cost to the town is expected to be within the current energy budget for the Smith and Brooks buildings.
The Brooks parking lot canopy footings and some conduit work are scheduled for the summer of 2021, but most of the installation of the solar PV system is expected to occur in one deployment after the entire renovation is substantially complete.
The GMP (Guaranteed Maximum Price) is Finalized…
…and the project is a go! (Wait, what about the Special Town Meeting (STM)? I thought we had to vote?)
First let’s answer the STM question because it has come up a few times: Way back in February 2020, BC (Before COVID-19), the construction bids were received, they were over our budget, and the SBC cut $3.5M out the project to keep it within the approved $93.9M. We then had a school project that was both on time and on budget. However, to make that happen, we had to cut a bunch of items that are important educationally and to the community, and so the SBC requested a Special Town Meeting to ask residents if they would like to vote for additional funding to restore any or all of those aspects of the project. The SBC is still considering bringing items to the Town for a vote, but the $93.9M project goes on regardless of the outcome of the vote(s).
So why is the GMP just being finalized now? When the SBC met (virtually) on March 25, it was to approve the final costs, terms, and schedules that make up the GMP. New to the proposed language was a clause addressing possible costs and schedule impacts of COVID-19. Figuring out the full implications of COVID-19 on the project is difficult and we are working closely with our project team to understand what those impacts might be. The situation is evolving, and we will update the community as we learn more. In the meantime, after negotiations between our Town Counsel and Consigli, the GMP includes a COVID-19 clause that shares potential financial impacts between our general contractor, Consigli, and the Town. A key aspect of the agreement is that there is a cap on COVID-related expenses.
Consigli has a construction contingency of $1.7M built into its contract. The new agreement allows them to use the contingency for COVID-related expenses. Any expenses Consigli identifies as being due to COVID-19 will be submitted for approval to Daedalus, our Owner’s Project Manager, and/or the SBC.
If all of Consigli’s contingency is used, they may be reimbursed for COVID-related expenses for up to 25% of their contingency ($425K).
The goal is to have these COVID expenses be covered either by Consigli’s construction contingency or by the owner’s (Town’s) contingency ($4.3M).
Last Wednesday, while the sun was still up, the SBC spent part of its meeting outside looking at proposed exterior materials in natural light. As a result, the SBC approved 1) a red brick that mimics the brick on the current Smith School; 2) a dark, warm gray accent brick; and 3) a pallet of three cement board colors that will be used on the upper portions of the Auditorium and Reed Gym.
In addition, SMMA presented an updated HVAC plan.
Click here to see the entire slide deck from the meeting.
NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, August 14, 7pm, Hartwell.
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.
SolarBylaw: 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)