Boston – Boston-based Finegold Alexander Architects hosted a virtual tour of the Eliot Innovation School in Boston’s North End on March 12.
In partnership with the Association for Learning Environments (A4LE) New England Chapter, architects from Finegold Alexander along with Eliot Innovation School principal, Traci Walker-Griffith, showcased and discuss the transformation and adaptive reuse of a former FDA testing facility turned office building into a contemporary educational facility; more specifically:
- The creation of a vibrant school identity for this formerly nondescript office building
- How views and location connect students to their natural and historical environment, significantly enhancing the learning experience
- A new stair and elevator tower oriented toward the Zakim Bridge that clearly identifies the school’s entry and provides for accessibility
- The use of bright colors on the school’s eight bays and at the interior reference the natural world: green, blue, and aqua for earth, sky, and water
- The creation of learning nooks and break-out spaces geared for small-group instruction, facilitating collaborative learning, teamwork, and problem solving
- Classroom furnishings designed to allow for a variety of instructional styles and flexibility within classrooms
- The kitchen design enables the BPS Fresh Food Initiative to provide fresh produce and healthy meals to students.
- A new exterior play space is accessible to the community and the new site design provides an additional means of access to the Boston Harborwalk.
- Features that promote sustainability and resiliency, including a new reflective roof; high R-value building envelope; a storm-water retention system; and high-performance glazing, among others
Located at 585 Commercial Street, The Eliot Innovation School serves grades 5-8 as part of a three-building campus in Boston’s North End.
Completion of construction and the opening of the $15 million renovation of the Eliot Innovation School building at 585 Commercial Street was announced on September 5, 2019. The renovation was part of Mayor Walsh’s $2.08 billion fiscal year 2018-2022 Imagine Boston Capital Plan. The two-year construction project was the final phase of an overall $33 million Eliot Innovation School expansion. Finegold Alexander Architects served as the design architect and architect of record for the project.
The school has experienced renewal under the leadership of Griffith, an educator and administrator for Boston Public Schools who was tapped to improve student outcomes for the Eliot School in 2007. In just three short years under Griffith, the school went from underperforming and at-risk for closure to being recognized as a Commendation School in 2010, 2011, and 2012 for exceeding academic growth goals. This success drove administrators, families, and the community to campaign for the school’s expansion.