A look at what the inside of Hosmer School could look like. The view is from the top of the stadium seats in the learning commons, and looks down the atrium to the main entrance. The architects designing Watertown’s new elementary schools gave the School Building Committee a peek at what Hosmer, Cunniff and Lowell could look like after construction is complete. Scott Dunlap of Ai3 Architects showed what designers have come up with for what the outsides of the new buildings could look like. They have also laid out where the classrooms, gyms, cafeterias and other spaces would be located, even started to show where sinks and other fixtures could go in the rooms.
Some of the layouts have changed since the proposals first came before the School Building Committee.
The plan for the Hosmer School campus presented to the School Building Committee on Jan. 23. it shows the brand new school, and three parking areas. The cost estimate for rebuilding two of Watertown’s three elementary schools — while the third is thoroughly renovated — came in close enough to the price of the alternative of renovating the three schools for the School Building Committee to recommend going for the new construction option. Representatives from project designer Ai3 Architects and owners project manager Daedalus Projects presented the cost estimates at the Jan.
The proposal to build a new building at Cunniff School would place the school on the side near the cemetery. On the right is a conceptual drawing of a floor plan for the second story. Wednesday night, the School Building Committee saw the first concepts for how new school buildings could fit onto two of the three Watertown elementary campuses, and the board and public, alike, responded enthusiastically. Project designers from Ai3 Architects presented the concepts they came up with for where a new school building would go on the Cunniff and Hosmer school sites, and showed what the planned renovation of Lowell School would look like. They were given the charge in December after the School Building Committee learned that the price difference for new schools would not be that much higher than doing wholesale renovations.
School may be out for summer, but the planning for the reconstruction of Watertown’s three elementary schools will still be in session. The School Building Committee, which oversees the design and construction of Hosmer, Lowell and Cunniff elementary schools, has three meetings scheduled in August. The group is scheduled to meet on Aug. 1, 15 and 29, but the meeting on the 15th may conflict with a School Committee meeting. The School Building Committee meets at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber in Town Hall.
Details of what Watertown’s three elementary schools will look like after they are renovated came more into focus Thursday when the School Building Committee approved the conceptual designs for Hosmer, Cunniff and Lowell elementary schools. With the approval, the architects from Ai3 will move onto the schematic design phase of the project. The conceptual designs provide a guide for where designers will put new additions and which areas will be renovated inside the existing buildings, said Scott Dunlap, principal of Ai3. He added, however, that architects are still “pushing and pulling” the floor plans inside the buildings. Thursday’s meeting began with a walk through of the Hosmer site, where Ai3 had staked out the corners of the proposed new school building that would be built in front of the building with the auditorium and gym, ask you look from Mt.
The School Building Committee had some sticker shock when members saw the original cost estimate for renovating and rebuilding Watertown’s three elementary schools, but architects delved deeper into the project found ways to cut more than $40 million off the cost. On Wednesday night, Scott Dunlap, principal of Ai3 Architects, said designers found an estimated $42.7 million in savings by looking at a variety of areas. The total cost estimate, including contingency funds, design costs and other costs, would be $134.9 million. The cost estimates also include $2,800 per student for furniture, equipment and technology, with half that amount for technology, Dunlap said. A big savings — $11.9 million — would be cut by staggering the construction and using the old part of Hosmer Elemntary School as swing space during construction at Lowell and Cunniff elementary schools. This would shorten the construction schedule and would mean other schools would not need to put up modular classrooms.
This part of the savings became a topic of discussion among School Building Committee members.
The architects for the renovation or rebuilding of Watertown’s three elementary schools presented refined conceptual drawings of the schools, and proposed to the School Building Committee that students from other schools go to school at Hosmer School while their school is being renovated. The conceptual plans for Lowell, Cunniff and Hosmer elementary schools includes some new construction and some renovation at each school. Architects from Ai3 shared a schedule that would stagger the start of construction at the three schools so that the new construction at Hosmer would be finished first, freeing up the old section of the school for other schools to use for a few months. Saving money on the project has been a focus since it was discovered that the construction cost estimates in the School Facilities Masterplan done by SMMA in 2016 were much lower than is realistic. Town Manager Michael Driscoll has pledged $120 million for the three elementary schools that would come out of the Town’s budget, and not require a tax increase, but Ai3 estimated the cost of the project would be as much as $180 million.
The Town Council approved a new member of the Planning Board at Tuesday’s Council meeting, but the candidate did not receive unanimous support.
Jason Cohen, who has been an alternate member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, was appointed to the Planning Board to replace John Hawes, who recently stepped down after more than two decades on the board. Cohen, is an architect, has served on the ZBA since 2015, has lived in town since 2001 and has two children attending Hosmer Elementary School. Professionally, he works primarily on large multi-unit housing projects, but during his interview with the Economic Development & Planning subcommittee he said he is interested in larger urban planning issues that come before the Planning Board, including approving projects on Arsenal Street and Pleasant Street. Town Councilor Angeline Kounelis said she could not support Cohen because she believed he did not consider all input from residents when considering a case. She pointed to the proposal for the medical marijuana facility at 23 Elm St., and the ZBA meeting in May 2017.