We recently finished the Brooke Mattapan Charter School (as chronicled in an earlier blog post). One of our favorite times at the conclusion of any project is when we go back to take final, professional photography; in part, because it allows us to see the users of the building enjoying their new space, and also so we can enjoy capturing images of the buildings we have thoughtfully designed and managed through construction.
It was a pleasure to work with the staff, faculty, and students of Brooke to create their new Mattapan facility – the renovation of a former orphanage: the Home for Destitute Jewish Children. The original signage for the orphanage can still be seen just below the pediment at the front of the building. The original structure (which now houses the classrooms) was built in 1911, and the building received an addition in 1959 that included a gymnasium, lobby, and locker rooms. The re-vitalization of this structure for the Brooke Mattapan Charter School maintains this rich history on the site while adding a new vibrant chapter.
Like many of the other charter schools we work on, Brooke is a high performance school that focuses on closing the achievement gap, and we work closely with our charter school clients to understand their mission and then design a school that meets all of their specific programmatic needs. At Brooke, students are exceeding academic expectations for Massachusetts’ highest performing students, so it is imperative they have a facility that similarly helps the staff, faculty, and students exceed their goals.
To provide optimal learning environments within the historical shell, a full gut renovation of the 1911 construction was required. The original orphanage construction had been modified in an ad-hoc manner at various points through time, leaving very little of the original layout or detail in the structure intact. New classrooms were organized on each level around both a central utility core and the original main circulation stair, which was enclosed to achieve a fire rating and restored to its original charm. The new classrooms are characterized by large window openings, high ceilings, and historical detailing that was required as part of the historic tax credits that the project pursued and was awarded.
On Friday October 3rd, we will join the Brooke Mattapan community for the dedication of their new home. Earlier this week, we joined them to build their playground (read more about it here).