3 finalists chosen to design revamped Arlington High

State won't support indoor swimming pool effort

Adam Chapdelaine, Kathy Bodie, Jeff Thielman at MSBA on Oct. 3, 2017. / Amy Speare photoAdam Chapdelaine, Kathy Bodie, Jeff Thielman at MSBA on Oct. 3. / Amy Speare photo

UPDATED, Oct. 4: Three firms have been chosen as finalists to design a revamped Arlington High School. They are Arrowstreet  of Boston, Feingold Alexander Architects of Boston and HMFH Architects of Cambridge.

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine, Superintendent Kathleen Bodie and School Committee Chairman Jeff Thielman represented the AHS Building Committee at the Tuesday, Oct. 3 Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) meeting to choose the designer.

The Arlington High School Building Committee heard the announcement last night.

Last month, six designers submitted proposals to work on the AHS building project. The three that were not selected were Drummey Rosane Anderson (DRA) of Waltham, Flansburgh Associates of Boston and Kaestle Boos Associates of Boxborough and Boston.

Feingold Alexander is the architect for the former Gibbs School project. HMFH designed the Thompson addition. DRA designed the recently completed Stratton School renovation.

The MSBA designer selection committee plans to interview the finalists at its Oct. 24 meeting. The AHS Building Committee expects to hire a designer for the project by the end of October.

A-Pool applies to CPA 

A-Pool, a group of town residents who attended the first AHS Building Committee meeting last December, aiming to include an indoor pool in the school's design, has been rebuffed by the MSBA, but is seeking $20,000 of community-preservation funds.

Appearing at public participation of the Oct. 3 building-committee meeting were Renee Piazza and Kate Radville. They spoke about about having year-round access with a pool that would serve students and the community.

Piazza noted much support and energy at Town Day. "People are excited," she told the committee.

A petition supporting including the group in a feasibility study has 693 signatures as of Oct. 4. 

They noted it is very early in the process.

Thielman said a pool can't be funded by the MSBA, and he suggested applying for money through the Community Preservation Act.

A-Pool has already done that, applying by the Sept. 29 deadline.

Efforts in Winchester,  Wellesley

Radville said A-Pool members have spoken to similar groups in Winchester and Wellesley, where pools are underway. Read this account in the Swellesley Report >> 

Chapdelaine told Piazza and Radville that A-Pool is "on right track" in seeking CPA funding, and suggested also pursuing money via the town's Capital Planning Committee.

"We need to talk again ... [and] look at options," he said.

If Town Meeting next spring approves money for a needs assessment, the funds would be available next July 1.

The available pool in Arlington is at the Boys & Girls Club. Its space does not accommodate all practices for the Arlington High swim team.

Chuck Adams of Skanska, the owner's project manager, said the MSBA has required the building with the pool to be separate from a high school that receives authority money.

Thielman added that the architect chosen by the MSBA cannot add a pool to its design.

During discussion about the three design finalists, the building committee was told to have no contact with anyone connected with those architectural firms.

A lengthy discussion ensued about what questions to ask the candidate firms. Each of the three gets 30 minutes, and Arlington gets three votes.

Committee member Brian Rehrig asked how many issues should be raised at the Oct. 24 meeting in Boston. "Four, five, six," Adams suggested.

Finance subcommittee, communication

The committee voted unanimously to name the following to its finance subcommittee: John Danizio, the schools' chief financial officer; John Cole, chairman of the Permanent Town Building Committee, Chapdelaine and Rehrig.

Amy Speare of the communication subcommittee reported plans for a fact-based blog. Its proposed name, Ponder, drew a few groans.

She said she hope it would discuss the role of design and answer public's queries, such as what a feasibility study is.

Cole asked about the AHS newspaper, which not been in paper from since about 2011. He suggested having students write for the blog.

The committee's next meeting is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, in the School Committee Room, sixth floor, AHS.


Opinion, Sept. 27: Ready to dive in to support including a pool at new AHS?
Official information about the high school building project 
Feb. 15, 2017: Arlington High School rebuild OK'd for next stage: Is it feasible? 
May 25, 2016: State says Arlington High School rebuild can advance
State Building Authority process >> 

This news summary was published Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, and updated the same day to add details.