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Parking, Appearance a Concern with Early Angier Elementary Designs

Architects and designers gave a presentation Monday night outlining some early ideas for a new Angier Elementary School.

With construction estimated to start less than two years from now, Newton school and city officials have started viewing early designs for the new Angier Elementary School in Waban. 

During a meeting held Monday night, the Board of Aldermen and School Committee offered feedback on preliminary sketches presented by the project's design firm, DiNisco Design. 

And although the design ideas are in the early stages, Aldermen already have a list of questions concerning traffic and the overall apperance of the new building. 

"These are ideas, they're not solutions," City Project Manager Alex Valcarce said, reminding officials that the designs are preliminary. "The intent is to get some feedback from the committee and the board." 

Earlier this month,  as well as a gym, cafeteria, library, music and art rooms.

Monday night's presentation, given by DiNisco Principal Architect Leno Filippi, offered more visuals for both renovation/addition projects and new construction.

To see visuals of these plans, flip through the .pdf to the right.

Two of the renovation/addition options propose adding space to the front of the existing Angier building. This new space would mostly consist of a new cafeteria, library and administrative offices. (Concepts A.1, A.2)

Another addition option would be to create an addition in the front, but have it separated from the old building with a bus/car drop-off area in the middle and a bridge connecting the two buildings. (Concept A.3)

Nevertheless, both the architects and the aldermen agreed that a renovation option is not ideal and the city should focus its energy on new construction.

"We can spend a heck of a lot of time talking about it, but these [renovation/addition] plans seem utterly unfeasible," said Ward 7 Alderman-at-Large Marc Laredo. "I wouldn't spend a lot of time on it.

Filippi also presented four new construction designs, two of which have the building surrounding a center courtyard with the staff parking wrapping around the sides and back of the building. (Option B, B.1)

In most of the new construction designs, the core facilities are situated on the Beacon Street side of the building, with the classrooms in the back. 

Similar to one of the renovation designs, a third new construction option has two separate sections of the building with a bridge attaching the two parts of the school. (Option C)

Another concept has more of an "external courtyard", with the building making a u-shape around a playground area and a parking lot on the side that is shared with the school and Lincoln Park. (Option D)

Despite all the options presented, many aldermen agreed that parking is a problem on the site. With only two acres of land on the site, the 60-70 parking spaces restrict options for the proposed 75,000-square-foot school.

"One of the limitations of all the designs is the need to have all of the parking on-site," said Ward 6 Alderman-at-Large Greg Schwartz.

"If there is less parking on the site, there is more space for [educational] programming," Schwartz added.

Alderman Laredo agreed, suggesting that the city consider options of locating some of the teacher/staff parking off-site.

"I think we ought to be focusing on the building and how we can make the building most productive," Laredo said. 

Aside from traffic, some aldermen were concerned about the overall appearance of the building and whether it would blend in with the village.

"I'm concerned that some of these layouts really overwhelm the neighborhood," said Ward 3 Alderman-at-Large Ted Hess-Mahan.

Designers assured city officials that the designs presented Monday night are very basic sketches and once the details and architecture of the building are added in, the building may blend in better with the landscape and neighborhood.

The Angier School Building Committee and Design Review Committee will meet jointly next week to review the site strategy and design massing. That meeting will take place on Thursday, July 29 at 5 p.m. in the Aldermanic Chamber at City Hall. 

Adam November 27, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Parking aside... how does a kid walk or bike to the front of this school? Was this designed to encourage kids to get to school on their own or get dropped off at the front door? I know it's early, but getting the site and the layout right (as well as the requirements) are critical. Perhaps Newton is using the wrong architect.

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