A vision for what the new Hosmer Elementary School might look like was presented to the School Building Committee last week, and members had a variety of opinions.
There are already a mix of styles on the site, including the Brigham House (formerly East Junior High and before that Watertown High School), along with the 1960s era section with the auditorium, and the 2002 addition that connects that area to the old classroom building. That building will be torn down and a new building will be constructed.
Architect Scott Dunlap of Ai3 presented conceptual drawings for the new building, which showed a three story building with clapboard style siding — red is some areas and white in others — topped by pitched roofs and a cupola.
“We are not attempting to match it with the Brigham House or the exiting Hosmer,” Dunlap said. “We are trying to make it on the scale with the existing neighborhood and blend in with that. We call it vintage, and use the images of vintage schools.”
The concept got mixed reviews from the School Building Committee.
Resident member and architect Kelly Kurlbaum said she did not think the look works in Watertown.
“I have seen barn house style in more rural communities,” Kurlbaum said. “I’m not sure what about Watertown says that? … Do we really want to blend in with the neighborhood or do we want to look like a brand new modern school?”
Assistant Town Manager Steve Magoon liked the vintage school look.
“I can see the school roof, the pitched building and cupola as the school’s symbol or emblem,” Magoon said. “I like it.”
Paul Anastasi, board member and former school facilities manager, said he likes the idea of having pitched roofs.
“A flat roof, like a skylight, sooner or later will leak,” said Anastasi, who added that they should make sure that the roofs are oriented so that snow falling off the roof does not fall on walkways.
Town Council President Mark Sideris, chair of the School Building Committee, said he does not think it is the right image.
“When I look at it I felt like I was walking down Arsenal Street, with all the new apartment buildings,” Sideris said. “It looks nice, but to me it doesn’t look like a school.”
The School Building Committee will review the designs for the Lowell and Cunniff elementary schools at its next meeting on Aug. 15 at 6 p.m. in Town Hall. Find out more about the project at watertownschoolsproject.com.