After initial layouts sparked concerns over parking and overall appearance, several Newton aldermen and School Committee members agreed last week that the latest designs for the new Angier Elementary are moving in the right direction.
"It's a great design," said Ward 7 Alderman-at-Large Marc Laredo. "I'm really excited about it."
Aldermen met jointly on January 10 with members of the School Committee, Design Review Committee and Angier School Building Committee to discuss and review the most recent design ideas with representatives from DiNisco Design Partnership, the Angier project designers, and Angier project managers from Joslin Lesser & Associates.
As explained during an initial design presentation in November, architects are looking to build a new, 75,000-square-foot school to replace the current, 90-year-old building. The new building, which is expected to seat 465 students, is part of school officials' plans to add more classrooms in the space-strained district.
"The Angier School is just one part of our overall plan to increase capacity in our elementary schools," Ward 2 School Committee member Jonathan Yeo said prior to Thursday's presentation.
DiNisco Design President/Principal Kenneth DiNisco presented Thursday night the latest design for the school, which now outlines an "L-shaped" building on the two-acre site.
The L-shaped building will create a courtyard/piazza area in the front, DiNisco explained, which leads to a front entryway and "atrium" area. The atrium and piazza will help create a gathering space at the front of the school, which is one of the community's design priorities, DiNisco said.
The current layout also has the cafeteria and gym set back from the road and separate from the classrooms. Having the gym and cafeteria away from the classrooms will allow the public easy access to the space for functions and meetings held after school.
In addition, all 70 of the staff parking spaces would be situated behind the building, located on the side of the parcel that abuts the MBTA D-line tracks, DiNisco said.
Other design priorities DiNisco is considering as it works through the feasibility study include:
- Cafeteria opens up to the playground area
- Music classroom adjacent to the stage/cafetorium
- Library centrally located in the building
- Kindergarten classrooms preferably on the first floor
"It feels like a very efficient space," said Ward 8 School Committee Member Margie Ross Decter, who also commended the design firm's creative approaches and the use of an open, atrium area in the front entrance.
Although school and city officials highlighted many positives in the design, some committee members and aldermen urged the designers to take a close look at potential safety problems that could come along with crosswalks proposed for the site.
According to David Krawitz, a senior project manager at Joslin Lesser & Associates, the current design is the feasibility stage, which will be followed by a schematic design phase. During the schematic design, the designers will be able to present more details about the appearance of the school to allow the community to get "a feel for the building." Those details are likely to come this spring, Krawitz said.
Construction on the new building is slated to start in fall 2014, with Angier students moving to the former Carr Elementary School while the new school is built.
Newton Patch will provide .pdf copies and/or .jpg images of the latest design as soon as they are available.