More Pizzazz Sought in Design

The new Hill School design just isn’t “speaking” to Superintendent Paul Dakin, and he said this week that he will call on architects to really flex their creative muscles in coming up with a better final design.

“The building still doesn’t pop for me,” said Dakin this week. “After building so many schools, we know now how to be creative and do something eye-catching. I want them thinking harder about how we can have this be an impressive building with a good deal of the ‘wow’ factor. It’s not that it would cost more to do that either. It’s about squeezing every dollar we are already spending. It’s easy to accept something standard and not think creatively. After building things like the Rumney Marsh and the Paul Revere, I think we can go further and put things in to ‘wow’ the building up.”

Dakin said the current design is nice, but he said it has the feel of the Whelan School and Susan B. Anthony School, which were the first new schools built by the City. Since that time, he said they have gained quite a bit of experience in producing aesthetically-catching schools without spending any additional money.

“This building feels to me like the Whelan,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with the Whelan, but it’s not like walking into the Rumney or Paul Revere. At the Rumney, you walk in and there’s all this open space and a nice staircase and great curves. I think they can do better for us on this school.”

Dakin said he would suggest they look at different fixtures, creative lighting, innovative design elements and non-traditional uses of color.

He said the Building Committee has even discussed instituting a retro red brick type of design to match the Fire Station, City Hall and the old McKinley.

“In the end, we just want the best building we can get both functionally and aesthetically, especially since this building will be right in the center of the city and a component of the Broadway revitalization,” he said. “Thinking about this and making these kinds of changes now is very important.”

In other Hill School news, designers have scaled back the glass that is being used in the new school. Originally proposed as being chock full of glass, that has been stepped down a bit. However, Dakin said it wasn’t very noticeable and probably would not be an obvious change.

Finally, Mayor Dan Rizzo and Dakin are hoping to engage the MBTA in a discussion about cleaning up and beautifying the bus easement by the Central Fire Station – perhaps tearing down the old building that used to be a taxi stand.

The hope is that during construction, the MBTA and City can cooperate in building sidewalks, defining the roadway and simplifying the layout of the turnaround. He also proposed constructing a sidewalk promenade that would lead from Broadway to the new school.

“Maybe they can see this as a project that wouldn’t cost them a lot if the partner with us,” he said.

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