As part of the Edward Brooke Mattapan Charter School project, the design team is pursuing the award of historic tax credits that are administered by the National Park Service. That pursuit guided many of the scoping decisions for the renovation and restoration of the combined 1911 and 1959 vintage structures that will house the school. The historic tax credit process is mainly a linear one with required submission and review schedules, but towards the end of our construction document phase we encountered a challenge in that process that tested our agility.

The project is largely an adaptive re-use of the existing structures on site, though towards the back of the building we designed a small addition to house an elevator, an egress stair, and some small group instruction rooms. As is typical for the design process, we generated many different options for the exterior appearance of this addition and finally arrived at an approach that our team was happy with. We then proceeded to develop the design of the addition with elevation, wall section, and detail drawings – all in preparation for the issuance of construction documents for bidding.

About two weeks before the project was going to be put “on the street” for bidding, we heard from the National Park Service that our historic tax credit application had slipped through the system. While it was reviewed expeditiously after having been located, we heard back that there were several comments that needed to be incorporated into the construction documents prior to bidding. The most significant of these comments was a request that the exterior envelope of our small stair/elevator addition needed to be compromised almost entirely of glass. The intent of the glass was to allow the original brick walls around the addition to be seen from the exterior, therefore better preserving the character of the original building.

Needless to say, this input created an immediate buzz of activity. After a hectic re-design, an emergency team meeting to approve the new scheme and informal word from the National Park Service that the revised design would be acceptable, we were given an additional 1.5 weeks to incorporate the changes. Through a lot of effort and coordination, the bid documents were put on the street on schedule with the revised addition design incorporated.

The photos above will give you a sense of the existing building where the addition will be located, the original addition design, and the design that reacted to the National Park Service input. After the bid documents were completed, we all agreed that the new design will end up making the school a much nicer place – but getting to that point certainly illustrates the predictably unpredictable nature of our profession!

Topics: Institutional