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Saugus irons out school designs

SAUGUS — The design for the new middle-high school could include elements that reflect on the town’s history and the Saugus Iron Works.

“I would love to see the history of the town incorporated into the school and I’m a huge fan of the Iron Works,” said School Committee chairwoman Jeannie Meredith. “I’m a big fan of the Saugus Sachem but I’d also love to see some of the history included in there with the Iron Works.”

The team designing the new middle-high school has kicked off a planning phase that involves in-depth back-and-forth on the school’s design. The current design development phase is with the Massachusetts School Building Authority, the quasi-independent government agency that funds public schools.

A full design development package was submitted to the authority last week, which included advanced plans and specifications showing detailed mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, structural and architectural elements of the building, and landscaping details. Once School Building Committee members and the architectural team receive the critiques, they will make adjustments and send the plan again.

Tina Stanislaski, senior associate at HMFH Architects, said the building is broken down into three parts and includes two classroom pods on either end of shared programs, like the gym, auditorium, and media center.

“HMFH is investigating using an Ironspot brick or brick with a sheen to recall metal for the anchoring classroom pods,” said Stanislaski. “The Ironspot masonry subtly references back to Saugus’ historic Ironworks.”

The Saugus Iron Works that exists today is a reconstruction of the first successful, integrated iron works in the New World which produced wrought iron and cast iron products from 1646 to 1670. The site is considered the birthplace of the iron and steel industry in Colonial America, according to the National Park Service website.

Similarly, the shared space in the center of the classroom pods could be constructed with a metal exterior to allude to the town’s history.

“When you visit the Iron Works, the interiors are wood and the structure of the building is wood, so we are proposing using wood structural members in the gymnasium,” she said. “Any areas where windows or benches are carved out of these metal components, we are proposing wood infill.”

The design team is working on two different facades; a smaller, pedestrian entrance and the face of the building that will be seen from a moving vehicle on Route 1. It will include graphics that call attention to the combination middle-high school and its importance to the town of Saugus, Stanislaski said.

Pods or groups of classrooms will each have their own color, to distinguish that each has its own identity.

Suffolk Construction was chosen as the construction manager at-risk for the project in October. The Saugus High School Project Building Committee opted to pursue a construction manager at-risk method for the project during a meeting in April. The method guarantees that the selected construction manager allows for more flexibility if adjustments need to be made throughout the process.
The company has completed school building projects at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Suffolk University, and Everett High School. It is currently managing phased construction projects at Somerville High School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Boston College.

Voters overwhelmingly supported two debt exclusions to allow for the construction of the new school and a restructuring of the entire district during a special election in June.

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