School With a View Completed

Eliot Innovation School

Boston – Finegold Alexander Architects, the city of Boston, and the Boston Public Schools announced the completion of a $15 million renovation and opening of the Eliot Innovation School building at 585 Commercial St. The School will serve students in grades 5-8.  Finegold Alexander Architects served as the design architect and architect of record.

The Eliot School is the oldest continuously operating school in the United States and has been located in the North End for its entire history. The school opened as the North Writing School in 1713 and has educated many famous Bostonians, including Samuel Adams and Paul Revere.

Numerous building features promote sustainability and resiliency, including a new reflective roof, high R-Value insulation at the new building envelope, and glazing that maximizes natural light. Mechanical improvements include a new electrical service located at the second floor for climate resilience, a new fire protection system, and 98% efficient boilers. The school was designed to meet LEED Silver V4 for schools’ standards. The cafeteria accommodates the My Way Cafe school meals program, which provides students with fresh, healthy food options. The building features a multi-purpose space that may be utilized by the community.

Construction of the school at 585 Commercial St. began in 2017 and the new, 42,000sf school facility opened for the 2019 school year in September. Interior highlights include a digital art studio, technology classroom with robotics lab and laser cutter, media center, and 18 new classrooms that promote collaborative learning.

The building features eight brightly colored projecting bays, which create “learning nooks” geared for small group instruction and collaborative learning. Exterior upgrades include a new schoolyard with play structure, new sidewalks, and accessible entry.

The project team also included RSE Associates, structural engineer; RW Sullivan Engineering, MEP/FP engineer and code; Bryant Associates, civil engineer; and Copley Wolff Design Group,  landscape architect.

“The waterfront location affords harbor, Zakim Bridge and USS Constitution views, with the Freedom Trail steps from the front door, connecting students to their natural and historical environment and significantly enhancing the learning experience,” said Rebecca Berry, president, Finegold Alexander Architects.

“It’s incredible that our students are learning about American history and social studies with a view of the Bunker Hill Monument and the U.S.S. Constitution,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael Loconto.

The Eliot K-8 School now consists of three facilities, all in the North End. The Lower School, located at 16 Charter St., serves pre-K, Kindergarten and first-grade students; the Intermediate School at 173 Salem St. serves students in grades 2-4, and the recently completed Upper School at 585 Commercial St. serves students in grades 5-8. The renovations of both the Commercial Street and Salem Street locations were designed by Finegold Alexander Architects.

“I am thrilled to celebrate the opening of a new Eliot School building,” said Mayor Walsh. “This school is a big part of the North End’s history and will remain the heart and soul of this community for decades to come. Thank you to all our partners who made this possible. I look forward to all our students, teachers, families and the entire BPS community enjoying this beautiful building.”

The property was originally constructed in the 1960s as an FDA testing facility, more recently housing retail and office spaces.

“Every student deserves access to a 21st century education and Boston Public Schools is committed to providing all of our youth with safe, joyful and innovative learning environments,” said BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. “This is an exciting time for the Eliot School, and demonstrates the immense value and strength of coordinated community engagement and collaboration for the benefit of our children.”

“This beautiful new building will facilitate hands-on, collaborative learning experiences for our students and will undoubtedly serve as a model for future BPS construction projects.”

The new campus is located on the Harborwalk and is a short distance to public parks and all of the historic North End, with nearby MBTA access via North Station. The two other Eliot School campuses are also within walking distance, with students frequently traveling from one building to the others throughout the school day.

“The opening of the new Upper School is a true testament to our community’s and the city of Boston’s belief in public education and commitment to the Eliot School’s expansion,” said Principal Walker Griffith. “Every day our students, families, and faculty enter a magical, state-of-the-art building where they engage in learning and experiences on their path to being change agents of the future. As the proud principal of the Eliot School, I am forever grateful for a community deeply rooted in the mission that a great education can transform students’ lives.”

The Eliot’s 730 students are evenly distributed among the three school buildings, with the Upper School currently serving nearly 250 students. The Eliot School has experienced renewal under Principal Traci Walker Griffith’s 12 years of leadership, transforming the school into a thriving, deeply connected K-8 school community. Walker Griffith credits her holistic approach – serving children academically, socially, and emotionally – and the help of a committed teaching staff, dedicated student families and an engaged community.

“We are excited to continue working with the Eliot School, Boston Public Schools and the city for Boston to design innovative, joyful learning environments for Boston’s future leaders!” stated Rebecca Berry.

Project Team:
City of Boston, Public Facilities Department (Client)
Boston Public Schools (Client)
Finegold Alexander Architects (Architect)
Daniel O’Connell’s Sons (Contractor)
RSE Associates (Structural Engineer)
RW Sullivan Engineering (MEP/FP Engineer & Code)
Bryant Associates (Civil Engineer)
Copley Wolff Design Group (Landscape Architect)
Acentech (Acoustics)
Sladen Feinstein Integrated Lighting (Lighting)
Crabtree McGrath Associates, Inc. (Food Service)
Kalin Associates (Specifications)
Bourne Consulting Engineering (Environmental & Permitting)
Fuss & O’Neill (Hazardous Materials)
McPhail Associates (Geotechnical Consulting)
Tavares Design Associates (FF&E Consultant)


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