First Images Released of What Watertown’s New Schools Could Look Like

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.

School Building Committee Supports Rebuilding 2 Elementary Schools, Renovating Third

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.

Rebuilding of Watertown High School Moves a Step Forward with State Board’s Vote

Plans to renovate or rebuild Watertown High School cleared a major hurdle Wednesday when State officials voted to move the project to the next step — doing a feasibility study and create a schematic design

The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) Board voted at a meeting held in Boston on Wednesday. The WHS project now moves to the second step in a series of eight. The School Building Committee will hire an owner’s project manager to oversee the design and construction, and hire a project designer. 

Watertown Superintendent Dede Galdston announced vote on Wednesday in a statement in which she wrote:

I am pleased to share with you that the Massachusetts School Building Authority unanimously voted to invite the Watertown High School building project into Feasibility at their board meeting today.  In attendance were Senator Brownsberger, Mark Sideris, Michael Driscoll, Shirley Lundberg, Heidi Perkins, Steve Magoon and me.The next step in the process is the selection of the Owner’s Project Manager which will begin soon.  Once the OPM is in place, the designer will be selected through the MSBA’s Designer Selection Panel process.  These steps are considered Module 2, which should be complete within four to six months.  This is great news for our community!  

The MSBA’s vote came after the Town Council voted to spend up to $1.6 million on an owner’s project manager and to hire a designer at a meeting in late November. At that meeting, Galdston showed what she called a “best case scenario” timeline, in which students and staff would move into the new school in the fall of 2023. A feasibility study will be created, which will include examining possible locations for the school and what the new construction and/or renovation will include.

Parking, Drop Off at Lowell School Concern Residents, Some Oppose Location of Additions

Parking dominated the discussion of the plans to renovate and expand Lowell Elementary School at Wednesday night’s community meeting. The School Building Committee presented the latest designs for the renovated Lowell School at the community meeting. The school will be expanded so it can handle up to 550 students (the school currently has about 420), and update the current classrooms and facilities to provide a 21st century education, said Superintendent Dede Galdston. The Lowell library was filled with both parents and nearby residents. The topic of parking, and the drop off and pickup of students, were among the topics discussed by the attendees.

Hosmer School Community Worried About Loss of Field Space, Length of Construction Project

Major renovations are planned for all three of Watertown’s elementary schools, but Hosmer School will go through the most significant changes, and endure the longest construction period. Wednesday night, the School Building Committee visited Hosmer to share the latest plans and hear from parents and neighbors. Concerns included loss of green space and play area, as well as the impact of construction on the students. The school is first up on the schedule of renovations, and current plans call for demolishing the current classroom wing and building a new building on the Mt. Auburn Street side of the current cafeteria/gymnasium building.

Construction Costs for Watertown’s School Building Projects Up Several Million Dollars

The latest cost estimates for the renovation/rebuilding of Watertown’s three elementary schools are up several million since the last estimate presented to the School Building Committee. On Wednesday night, the project manager and architect presented their latest, best estimate of how much it will cost to renovate and rebuild Hosmer, Lowell and Cunniff elementary schools. The cost of the construction would be $122 million ($56.5 million for Hosmer, $31.67 million for Cunniff and $33.8 million for Lowell) and the additional costs would bring the total up to an estimated $153 million, said Project Manager Shane Nolan of Daedalus Projects. This is an increase of about $5.8 million from the estimate presented in August. About $1 million of the cost increase in the construction budget comes from a change to the project scope to include replacement of all existing windows and doors at Lowell and Cunniff, said architect Scott Dunlap of Ai3 Architects.

Parents, Neighbors Have Concerns About Proposal for Cunniff School Renovation

Parents and neighbors of Cunniff Elementary School got a look at what the school might look like after the renovation project is done, and they had some big questions and concerns about the loss of play area, drop off areas and more. 

Wednesday night the School Building Committee visited the school on the Westside of Watertown to discuss the upcoming renovation and addition of the campus. The board has upcoming meetings planned for Hosmer and Lowell schools. The current favored plan calls for keeping the front classroom wing at Cunniff, tearing down the one-story wing in back and replacing it with a two story wing. Along with classrooms, the project will add a full-size gym, expand the library, and create a music/blackbox theater space, said architect Scott Dunlap of Ai3 Architects. The classrooms in the existing wings will undergo major renovations.

Neighbors Concerned About Proposal for New Hosmer School, Loss of Field Space

The School Building Committee debated what the new Hosmer School should look like, but for residents living near the school the more important issue is where the new building will go. The Hosmer School will have a new classroom building, which may or may not be attached to the building with the gym, auditorium and cafeteria. The current classroom building (closest to Chauncey Street), will be torn down eventually, but not until after the school serves as the temporary home for students from Lowell and Cunniff schools while their buildings are renovated. AnnMarie Cloonan lives Winthrop Street, across from the field next to Hosmer where the new school building is proposed to be built. She had not even heard about the plans for Hosmer until recently. Her husband Fred said he thinks the Town should have alerted neighbors about the project.