The Boston Public Facilities Department held a meeting on June 19 to update the public on the status of the new Boston Arts Academy facility.
Jim McQueen, project ,anager for the city of Boston, told attendees that the purpose of the meeting was to inform the public about where they are with the design of the new facility. He said they were just in the process of completing design development. The meeting also discussed construction logistics and planning.
Jana Silsby of Perkins Eastman began the meeting by talking about the design. Highlights of the design include bike lanes on both sides of the street and expanding the curve on Ipswich Street further out so pedestrians can see around both corners more easily.
Silsby said that there will be a main entrance, as well as a separate entrance for the auditorium vestibule that will only be accessible when the venue is being used for a performance.
Silsby said that the new facility will be gaining 30,000 feet with a half-court gym, a 500 seat auditorium, and another lecture/recital hall. There will also be a full-service kitchen, which Silsby said the school currently has, but has not been utilized for many years.
“We’ve designed the school for 500 students,” Silsby said. She said that current enrollment is around 460.
With the recent heightened concern about safety in schools, Silsby said that there is only one way in and out way out of the building during the day. Anyone who comes through the front door will be taken through a security protocol.
She also said that bullying is an even bigger concern when it comes to safety, and she said that the building has been designed so that the administration will be spread throughout the building and across all floors, so someone will always have an eye on what’s going on.
In response to a question about environmental impacts, Silsby said that they’re working to lower energy consumption as much as possible, and this project will be LEED certified with a minimum of LEED silver.
Joe Berry, project manager at Lee Kennedy Co., discussed the demolition process.
“We anticipate mobilizing on site at the end of August of this year to begin the demolition phase,” Berry said.
He said that the demolition phase would last six months, and then they will move into the foundation and rebuilding process.
Berry said that staging and dust protection scrim for the full height of the building will be erected on the side of the parking garage and the apartment buildings, as well as on the side of the new hotel site. The staging and scrim would come down as the building comes down, Berry said.
He said they will be working from Ipswich Street back towards the alley.
“We will be taking the sidewalk, the parking, and a portion of the travel lane on Ipswich Street for a temporary but a fixed construction delivery lane for the duration of our project,” Berry said. He said that establishing this lane from the very beginning will allow the construction to be separated from the pedestrians and vehicles on Ipswich Street.
“We will be redirecting all pedestrian traffic away from the construction zone,” Berry said.
There will also be occasional street impacts as utilities need to be disconnected and reestablished, Berry said, and all construction traffic will be one way, originating from Boylston Street. “The construction traffic remains static for the duration of the project,” he said.
Berry said that a tower crane is anticipated for high concrete wall and structural steel placement, as well as an occasional mobile crane in the construction lane. There is no open spot to stage materials, so they will be relying on on-the-spot deliveries, which Berry said is becoming more of a common practice in the industry for urban development.
The construction schedule will be a typical 7 a.m. -3 p.m., five days a week, Berry said. He also said there will be some work on various Saturdays, though those dates have not been set in stone.
As a safety precaution, Berry said that the crane will not ever pick up a load over an occupied building.
Berry said that after the anticipated six-month demolition period, construction will last 24-26 months. McQueen said that occupancy for classes is expected for September of 2021.