Yesterday brought the first day of school in Boston, and with it came the opening of the newly renovated Fenway High School for the Arrowstreet design team. Located in the old Mission Hill School and originally owned by the Boston Arch Diocese, the 1920’s building is the new home for Fenway High, a Pilot School in the Boston Public Schools system. This is the first school completed under Mayor Walsh’s administration, and the City is eager to use the facility as a model of what can be accomplished by renovating an existing building rather than constructing from the ground up.
While not a complete gut renovation, Arrowstreet selectively addressed the major components that would make the school into a fresh learning environment for today’s students by cleaning up the classrooms, adding new technological improvements, converting the lowest level into usable classroom space, updating the mechanical systems, adding an elevator, and creating a 400-seat cafetorium with a full cooking kitchen. The kitchen was very important to Fenway, as they pride themselves on cooking nutritious meals for their students and employ not just a serving kitchen staff but also a full-time chef. While we did not fully air condition the entire building, the cafetorium addition is climate controlled for use in the summer months as a cooling center for the community.
Another major component of the renovation was the cross-corridor library, which you can read more about here. One of the great things about renovating an old school is the ability to mix old with new, and we were able to keep many of the architectural details, including the bookcases from the original library, which can be seen in the pictures above. By integrating these classic features with new components and graphical elements, the school is transformed into an engaging place for students to learn and interact.
As always, the first day was filled with anticipation for the students and staff. Fenway’s former building was a shared location with the Boston Arts Academy, so the Fenway students were very excited to finally have a building of their own. As an introduction to the school, staff organized a scavenger hunt for the students to help them locate the important features and offices around the school. Once students and teachers are settled into their spaces, look for professional photography of the school to follow in the coming months.