By John Anderson
If someone said a school could be built, furnished and occupied in about 18 months, most of us would think the truth was being stretched a bit. Not so in Auburn. When the official groundbreaking occurred on April 17, 2014, site work on West St. was well underway. Steel was erected in early June of that year, and the pace of construction never let up.
During a site visit last Thursday, I was told that the project would have been even more ahead of schedule if we didn’t have such a crippling winter. My last walk through was in December when it was very much an active construction site. Drywall was still being hung and taped, and we all wore those stylish hardhats. One could get the feel of the school, but you had to use your imagination.
The hardhat order had been lifted by last week, and I was joined by School Committee Chairman George Scobie who brought along his elementary aged boys, Committee member Jessica Harrington and Ailaine Zautner from the central office. Our tour was led by members of the Skanska team which serves as the owner’s (Auburn Public School’s) representative throughout the project.
The tour descriptions will follow the slide show sequence in this article. One of the most pleasing observations was the signs on most classroom doors that read “Final Cleaning Done.” Although furniture and teaching equipment weren’t on site yet, most classrooms are ready to go. Skanska is now doing the punch list for any items that need attention or repair.
The gymnasium is bright and spacious with folded bleachers along one wall. The entire student population can now gather in one room without issues, and spectators don’t need to stand against the walls. Because of all the furniture and equipment moving over the next few weeks, many of the floors are covered with protective materials to avoid damage. The gym won’t see this traffic.
The cafeteria has a performance platform which will also serve as the chorus rehearsal room. The Massachusetts School Building Authority will not reimburse communities for an auditorium in a middle school. Nevertheless, this platform will see a lot of use.
The Media Center is spacious and well-lit with LED fixtures that are used throughout the site. Attentive readers might have a “Where’s Waldo” moment while viewing this photograph.
The Science rooms are equal to anything I have seen even at the college level, and storage should not be an issue here or in any of the other classrooms. Each classroom has an accent wall, white boards and a built-in projector.
The office area could go in any building in Corporate America, and the staff won’t be on packed in a small room. FYI, the office area at 10 Swanson Road is being totally remodeled this summer.
There is an outdoor classroom in the courtyard on the west end of the site which is flanked by the two academic wings. The front of the school has a small peaked roof which supports the glass atrium ceiling and allows daylight to stream in.
On Thursday, workers were busy spreading the sand and pellets on the artificial turf field which is lined for football, soccer, and field hockey. There is also a grass practice field on the east side next to a garden area for the students. Workers were putting up a “bunny fence” around the garden to protect any future plantings.
This is only a quick glimpse of another impressive school project in Auburn. The rest you will have to experience yourself. There will be tours for the public in August, and Auburn Mass Daily will publish details when the schedule is finalized.