Lowell Gets a Preview of ‘transformative’ LHS Project
LOWELL -- Community members got a preview of the new and renovated high school’s design and the steps planned to get the work done during a public presentation by project architects Monday night.
Representatives from Perkins Eastman said construction of the roughly $343.4 million project is scheduled to begin in June 2021 and will wrap up in July 2026.
City Manager Eileen Donoghue described the project as “transformative” and “the biggest project in the history of the city,” during Monday night’s presentation at the Lowell Senior Center.
“This is going to be a unique campus that will look like none other,” Donoghue said. “It is state-of-the art.”
The project will include a new gym, five-story Freshman Academy building, and a newly-designed and “welcoming” entry, said Robert Bell, of Perkins Eastman.
Plans shared Monday night also show an open green space in the quad -- based in the area between the new Freshman Academy and the gymnasium -- a rooftop garden, as well as vertical lightfalls and natural light available in every classroom. There will also be new foot bridges stretching over the Merrimack Canal to connect the fully renovated 1980 and 1922 buildings.
The project schedule presented Monday night shows the new gym facility opening in August 2022; the new Freshman Academy and business-tech wing opening in December 2023; the main building, auditorium and performing arts area opening in April 2025. The visual arts and library/media center will close out the project, and is anticipated to wrap up in July 2026.
The work will be broken up into phases, including Phase 1 and 1A, scheduled from spring 2021 to fall 2022, which will involve the demolition of 75 Arcand Drive, and the construction of the new gym building.
Phase 2 and 2A, scheduled from summer 2022 to winter 2023, will include the demolition of the existing gym, construction of the Freshman Academy and the renovation of the west side of the 1980 Building.
Phase 3, slated for winter 2024 to spring 2025, will include renovation of the remainder of the 1980 Building and north side of the 1922 Building, as well as construction of a new foot bridge and renovation of the auditorium.
The project wraps up with phase 4, scheduled from spring 2025 to summer 2026, and will include renovation of the remainder of the 1922 Building and rebuilding the existing foot bridge.
Perkins Eastman representatives stressed that students will be able to utilize the completed portions of the school as they become available during the roughly five-year project.
Also, the impact of the construction work on the education process has been taken into account with regular air-quality testing planned and barriers built to regulate sound.
“We want to make sure that we have this expectation that education is maintained all through the construction,” said Joseph Drown, of Perkins Eastman.
The Massachusetts School Building Authority is scheduled to vote on approving the project on April 10. The MSBA will pay for roughly $216 million of the project if they vote to approve. The City Council is scheduled to vote on a loan order for the remaining $127 million on April 23.
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