NEWTON, Mass. — Angier Elementary School students began 2016 in a brand new, state-of-the-art facility. The school, located in Newton, hosted its first day of classes on January 6 after more than a year of construction, during which students were transferred to nearby Carr Elementary. The 74,960-square-foot school was completed for approximately $37.5 million and will serve up to 465 students.
The project team includes Watertown, Mass.-based Joslin, Lesser + Associates (an NV5 Company), serving as the owner’s representative, and architect DiNisco Design Partnership of Boston. Locally based W.T. Rich Company served as the project’s construction manager. Angier Elementary School’s educational program and concept design will become a model for planned upgrades to all of the Newton elementary school facilities, according to the Joslin, Lesser + Associates website.
The original Angier Elementary School was, prior to construction of the new facility, the oldest school building in the community. It was originally constructed in 1919 and spanned 40,000 square feet. A more than 10,000-square-foot addition was completed in the mid 1930s. However, it was determined during the current project’s preliminary design program that the existing school footprint was 50 percent smaller than the required program area, according to the DiNisco Design Partnership website. Renovating or expanding the existing structure was deemed impractical, costly and ineffective in meeting modern educational program requirements.
Today, the new Angier Elementary School boasts floor-to-ceiling windows, classrooms equipped with new technology and dedicated areas for breakout instruction and special activities. Where students once had to meet with specialists in converted storage spaces, they now have proper offices and spaces for collaboration and specialized instruction. Color-coded floors assist in wayfinding. The new building is situated around an open plaza that serves as both an outdoor classroom and a gathering space. For security purposes, administrative spaces are located near the entrance (through which visitors must be buzzed in), with kindergarten, first and second grade classrooms on the second level. Upper grades are located on the third level.
Designed to achieve LEED Silver certification, the building includes energy-efficient windows and ample insulation as well as motion censor lighting that also adjusts to daylighting conditions. Outside, the school offers plenty of green space and two playgrounds for different age groups.
While time and budget didn’t present any significant barriers to the project, the slim 1.9-acre site did require the team to raise the grade level of a wedge of land to the rear of the property, which sloped steeply down to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority tracks. This aspect of the project also required the construction of a new retaining wall. Additional site, traffic and parking improvements required Angier Elementary School students to be temporarily relocated to Carr School for the duration of the construction project.
The project was funded partially the Massachusetts School Building Authority and partially by a voter-approved tax increase. It was completed within the anticipated budget and timeframe, however owner training and commissioning of the systems is ongoing, according to an update published by the project team. Playground equipment installation will continue through the end of the month and minor work, such as the installation of metal panels, will continue into February.