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Maria Weston Chapman Middle School

Location Weymouth, MA

Client Town of Weymouth

Services Project Management

Project Value $164 million

This new 252,000 SF middle school will enable the Town to consolidate grade levels and reduce transitions between schools. The new school will also deliver facilities important to the community, such as an 820-seat auditorium, and enhanced spaces for indoor sports and fine and performing arts, as well as manage future enrollment increases and enable greater integration of high-technology learning tools and curricula. Hill’s services include full OPM support, encompassing design management, scheduling and budgeting, cost control, on-site monitoring and inspection, and project close-out.

The new 6-8 middle school is the first project in the Town of Weymouth to obtain approval for a debt exclusion tax increase, as all previously proposed projects had failed. Hill worked diligently with the Town and the School Building Committee to help ensure a positive outcome for this project.

From the outset the Hill team helped to build and maintain community support for the project. During early visioning sessions the project team and the school building committee realized residents expected a more traditional middle school, but unfortunately this was not one of the options for consideration by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), which was funding the project. Hill and the project team quickly began a dialog with the MSBA and requested the inclusion of a further option to study a 6-8 grade configuration. After continued conversations with the MSBA, the team received approval to further the study and review options. After a study of alternatives, the preferred option was the 6-8 grade configuration. By listening to the community and the Town, our team and the School Building Committee presented a preferred option to the community which gained their full support.

Building the support of the community and Town was key to the project’s success. Our team worked creatively with the Town and School Department to inform the residents of the poor condition of the current building and the need for a new facility. The School Building Committee hosted tours of the existing school to be able to demonstrate all the deficiencies, including hazardous materials/asbestos, non-compliance with regulations, and mechanical electrical and plumbing issues.

Community surveys were conducted on all the enrollment options, and separate user focus groups were established that included both current school and district staff, town officials, community groups, and parents. The project team felt this community support was necessary, and the only way to truly garner such support is via an informed public. Local television stations were invited to all meetings to help promote outreach and numerous informational flyers were handed out at parent teacher conferences, farmers markets, and other public gatherings. Working with the School Building Committee, an informational video was created and aired in Town to spread key project information and gain momentum and support. These outreach efforts by Hill and the Town were instrumental in garnering the public’s support and approval.

The new Maria Chapman Middle School incorporates several large areas tailored to accommodate shared use with the community, including a gym, theater, walking track, and others. Details include:

  • The existing gym was 10,000 SF. MSBA’s guidelines showed they would approve a 6,000 GSF gym. With Hill’s guidance, the Town decided to renovate the existing gymnasium and maintain the larger size gym for both school and community use during non-school hours and days.
  • Theater arts are vital to the Town, and they planned to host state competitions in their auditorium. The new auditorium is designed to also host state competition events for up to 850 people.
  • A half-mile walking track was added around the school with intermittent fitness stations for the school’s physical education program as well as a great benefit for the community.
  • Areas to be used by the community during non-school hours: media center with large conference/meeting/learning space, culinary lab, broadcasting studios, theatre arts lab, makerspace lab, expeditionary lab, fabrication lab, music and chorus rooms, practice/theatre changing rooms, and a cafeteria space with seating for 500 people.

The new school also addresses lifecycle costs to better control operational budgets, and achieved LEED Gold Certification.

Hill received the Award of Merit in the AOM K-12 Education category from Engineering News-Record (ENR) New England for its work on the Maria Weston Chapman Middle School in Weymouth. MA.