Meeting Summaries - Driscoll School Building Project

  • Schematic Design Phase:  January - May 2019


    March 20, 2019

    Neighborhood Community Forum

    Over 30 community members met with Jonathan Levi Architects and the Driscoll School Building Committee last night to discuss project updates. The presentation involved reviewing the work done by both parties since December throughout the Schematic Design Phase. The presentation involved a review of the floor plans, construction costs, and safety improvements around the Driscoll neighborhood.

    Primary input received from the public included sound and secruity concerns regarding classrooms, the cafeteria, and other communal spaces, revitalized drop-off and pick-up areas around Westbourne Terrace and Bartlett Street, potential flooding in the basement area, and materials that will be used to develop the exterior facade of the building. The Building Committee will work Jonathan Levi Architects to incorporate this feedback into the Design Development stage of the project.

    With the the completion of the Schematic Design Phase, the next step in the process will be a townwide vote in the May 2019 Town Meeting to support a debt exclusion override to fund the Driscoll School Building Project and the Baldwin School Building Project. Should Brookline voters should support this proposition, the project will move forward to the Design Development phase during which final design, floor plans and architectural drawings will be completed. 


    March 18, 2019

    Transportation Board Meeting

    Summary and materials to be posted.


    March 7, 2019

    Building Committee Meeting

    Summary to be posted.


    February 26, 2019 and February 28, 2019

    Building Committee Meeting/School Committee Meeting

    Summary to be posted.


    February 8, 2019

    Building Committee Meeting

    Summary to be posted.


    January 24, 2019

    Building Committee Meeting

    Summary to be posted.


    January 15, 2019

    Building Committee Meeting

    Summary to be posted.


    Feasibility Design Phase:  September - December 2018


    November 29, 2018

    Capital and Schools Subcommittees Joint Hearing on Warrant Articles 2, 3, and 4 (Continued on November 29, 2018)

    Summary to be posted.

    November 27, 2018

    9th School Ad Hoc Subcommittee Public Meeting

    Summary to be posted.


    School Committee and Select Board Joint Public Hearings on Warrant Articles 2, 3, and 4

    Summary to be posted.

    November 26, 2018

    Building Committee Meeting

    On November 26, the Driscoll School Building Committee reconvened with Jonathan Levi Architects to revised their preferred design option (Option H - "Modified Star"). In the presentation, Architect Jonathan Levi provided refinements to the site design, including floor plans and Net Zero Carbon modifications. The committee also discussed and reviewed next steps in the construction process. In addition to meeting with Parks and Recreation, Transportation, and town boards in the oncoming months, Jonathan Levi Architects will continue to seek feedback from Driscoll staff and families. With the committee selecting a preferred design the next step in the process will be a vote at the Special Town Meeting in December for funding for the Schematic Design Phase.


    November 15, 2018

    Driscoll School Building Committee Meeting

    At their November 15th meeting, the Driscoll School Building Committee had a complete review of four preliminary designs and came to consensus that Architect Jonathan Levi should continue to refine Option H as the preferred design. The four options under consideration included two that would renovate the existing building (Options 0 and A.1) and two designs for a new school building (Options F.1 and H) to replace the existing building.

    During the three-hour meeting, Mr. Levi reviewed all four designs and shared his summary narrative of the advantages and disadvantages of each option. Mr. Levi’s presentation included visuals showing that the new building options would be shorter than the existing school and the differences in the amount of useable play space the designs would allow. The new building designs (Options F.1 and H) are the only ones that would reorient the building to the east, towards Washington Street and increase the amount of student playspace from the current Driscoll area.

    Committee members asked clarifying questions on topics including classroom organization, how well each design supports the educational mission of the school, the amount of play space, project costs, building height, student drop off, zoning, safety, and security.

    The committee then had an in-depth discussion about how each design met the evaluation criteria going line by line through the entire evaluation matrix. The committee discussed at length on how the new building designs were more cost effective because they would have lower operating costs due to being more energy efficient, are more successful in fulfilling the school’s educational mission, increase the amount of open space, and allow for a much better and more effective learning environment.

    Option 0 which adds 8 classrooms, but does not increase the size of the too small cafeteria, fails to improve existing spaces, does not improve the school entrance, and leaves many classrooms as substandard spaces was dismissed by committee members as being too costly for the limited improvements it would provide.

    Option A.1 was not favored by any committee members as it was the most expensive option while also reducing overall play space, and failing to provide separate and safe access for buses, cars, and service deliveries.

    The committee supported Option H, also known as the “Modified Star Design,” as the preferred design because of numerous advantages including that it provides the best and most flexible arrangement of classes, is situated on the property efficiently so it provides the greatest amount of useable play space, and allows for the most daylighting of all the four options.

    November 1, 2018

    Driscoll School Building Committee Meeting

    On November 1, the Driscoll School Building Committee met to discuss the revised Design Alternatives provided by Jonathan Levi Architects. Incorporating their feedback and concerns from the October 18 and October 29 meetings, Mr. Levi and his team developed a sixth option for the site that maximizes open space, minimize underutilized areas, and streamlines cost estimates. The committee also reviewed the final space summary approved by the School Committee on October 25. 

    Giles Hamm, Traffic Engineer with Vanasse and Associates (VAi), was on hand to present a preliminary report on traffic around the Driscoll neighborhood. Mr. Hamm was also able to calculate future traffic projections for the 800 student school. The site plan also provides recommendations to alleivate traffic via the design of the building, namely to reconfigure Washington Street as a bus drop-off area and develop Westbourne Terrance as a designated parent drop-off / pick-up area. Finally, the Building Committee reviewed the evaluation matrix, which will be used to quantify respective each design option through various matricies such as project viability, site, long-term costs, teaching and learning, buidling environment, and pedestrian/vechicular circulation.

    October 29, 2018

    Neighborhood Community Forum

    Over 40 community members met with Jonathan Levi Architects and the Driscoll School Building Committee last night to discuss project updates. The presentation involved reviewing the five Preliminary Design Alternatives provided by Mr. Levi's team, as well as a review of feedback received by Driscoll Staff, Families, and Neighbors since the Feasibility Design Phase began in September 2018. Each Design Alternative included an overall site layout and a range of cost estimates.

    Primary input received from the public included a lack of transparency in communication between the Building Committee and the general public, and suggestions that the Building Committee include non-negotiable factors within the neighborhood during their review of the design options. Additionally, community members asked for additional context and clarity on the decisions that the Building Committee will make during the Feasibility Design Phase, and its subsequent effects on the renovation and expansion of the Driscoll site itself. Using this feedback, the Building Committee will work Jonathan Levi Architects to revise and develop the design alternatives and create a more appropriate and effective design option. This, in conjunction with a draft of the Traffic Study, will be presented on November 1st during the Driscoll School Building Committee Meeting.

    October 18, 2018

    Driscoll School Building Committee Meeting

    On October 18, the Driscoll School Building Committee reviewed and gave feedback on the Design Alternatives provided by Jonathan Levi Architects. The committee first discussed the space summary, which analyzed the layout and size of each room at the Driscoll, and compared them with the standards set by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA).

    The committee then reviewed seven preliminary Design Alternatives that showcased a range of renovation and/or expansion that could be done to the school. Committee members emphasized the importance of accessibility to the new site, especially with regards to parking and walkability. Included in those designs was a matrix that compared the advantages and disadvantages of each design option, an overview of the criteria that will be used to evaluate the project, and a preliminary project cost estimate. Finally, Giles Hamm, Traffic Engineer with Vanasse and Associates (VAi), provided a quick update on when and where traffic counts will take place.

    October 9, 2018

    Parks and Recreation Commission Meeting – Driscoll School Update

    Summary and materials to be added. 

    Select Board Meeting – Public Hearing on Warrant Articles 3e and 4

    Summary to be added. 

    October 4, 2018

    Driscoll School Building Committee Meeting

    The Driscoll School Building Committee held its first meeting on Thursday, October 4, 2018. Committee co-chair Susan Wolf Ditkoff provided opening remarks and introduced each member of the Building Committee. Ms. Ditkoff presented an overview of the building project and explained the need to renovate and expand the Driscoll site and also explained how the Driscoll project is one important piece of the Town’s three-pronged approach to address the overcrowding and historic enrollment increases in the town’s schools. Superintendent Bott explained that expansion and renovation is the best option to combat rising class sizes and eliminate the district’s reliance on renting buildings for classroom space.

    Architect Jonathan Levi from Jonathan Levi Associates  summarized the design stages of the building project from feasibility through construction. Before showing preliminary design alternatives, Mr. Levi highlighted potential design concepts that are relevant to an innovative, 21st century model of education. Mr. Levi also stressed that the design process has already and will continue to incorporate input and comments from community members, parents, and the Driscoll staff.

    Mr. Levi presented nine Preliminary Concept Design Alternatives that range from a new addition of the existing building with minor renovations to three designs for new schools that would be built on the existing field and play space. Mr Levi highlighted that the new building concepts would allow new playing fields and park areas to be built on the existing school site closer to the neighborhood along Westbourne Terrace and have the school’s front entrance be on Washington Street. During this discussion, members of the Building Committee requested that Mr. Levi highlight playspace, circulation, and transportation as key areas of focus as they continue to assess and review the Driscoll site. Mr. Levi concluded his presentation with an update on traffic studies and the a timeline of project milestones.

    School Committee Meeting - Public Hearing on Warrant Articles 3e and 4

    Summary and materials to be added. 

    October 2, 2018

    Capital and Schools Subcommittees of the Advisory Committee - Joint Hearing on Warrant Articles 3e and 4

    Summary to be added.


    September 25, 2018

    Neighborhood Community Forum

    On Tuesday night, over 50 community members attended the first Driscoll Neighborhood Community Forum of the 2018-2019 school year, meeting with members of the Driscoll Building Committee and Jonathan Levi Associates and to provide input on the Design Feasibility Phase. Driscoll principal Suzie Talukdar, Building Committee co-chair Susan Wolf Ditkoff, Driscoll PTO co-president Ryan Garms and Superintendent Bott were also in attendance to provide information for the renovation and expansion project.

    In their presentation, Ms. Ditkoff, Superintendent Bott, and architect Jonathan Levi from Jonathan Levi Associates stressed the historic K-8 enrollment growth at the Public Schools of Brookline over the past ten years, and the many challenges the Driscoll School faces with its student population and programs. Mr. Levi also shared preliminary site analysis and a projected timeline of milestones over the next few years.

    In response to questions and comments from the public, Superintendent Bott explained the rationale behind expanding Driscoll into a 4-section school and provided additional context behind Driscoll’s increasing class sizes and projected enrollment. Community members shared concerns over cost estimates, neighborhood impact, greenspace and play areas. Parents also requested greater clarity on project guidelines, especially with what parts of the building can should be renovated and what should be expanded.

    Superintendent Bott, Ms. Ditkof and Mr. Levi all reiterated that Driscoll staff and community members input will be consistently included during the design phase so the renovation and expansion fully supports the Driscoll’s PK-8 students. Community members are invited to attend the upcoming Building Committee Meeting next Thursday on October 4, at 7:30 a.m in the School Committee room.


    September 22, 2018

    Education Visioning Session

    Over 20 parents, neighbors, alumni, and staff joined members of the Building Committee and Jonathan Levi Architects to discuss the Driscoll Renovation and Expansion Project. After brief remarks by principal Suzie Talukdar and co-chair Susan Wolf Ditkoff, education planner David Stephen led a thoughtful and open conversation with community members. Topics discussed included: shared community goals and best practices for teaching and learning strategies. Mr. Stephen also explored a range of design patterns that will best support the modern and innovative world of education. A set of guiding principles and priorities were also created, along with preliminary ideas and aspirations for what the building project can be. 


    June 21 and 22, 2018 

    Renovation and Expansion Project begins - Introduction to the Design Feasability Phase

    Work on the Driscoll Renovation and Expansion begins with the Design Feasbiliy Phase. At this stage of the project, the Staff Workgroup, along with Jonathan Levi Architects, will conduct more in-depth studies of Driscoll to identify the design option that fits the site and best meets projected education and enrollment needs. This process will also involved the selection of a preferred design from our architects and the realization of a more detailed, but still preliminary, estimate on costs and timeline deliverables. In addition, our team will also work closely with families, Driscoll staff, and the District Office to develop a Educational Plan and Space Summary to realize their vision of Driscoll's future.

    The summaries below pertain to the 9th School Alternative Site Study that resulted in selecting Driscoll for renovation and expansion. For more information about the 9th School Alternative Site Study, please click here.

    June 13, 2018

    Joint Board Meeting to Consider 9th School Alternative Site Study Options

    The Select Board, School Committee and the Ad Hoc Subcommittee to the Advisory Committee met on June 13th to deliberate and vote on the options under consideration for expanding school capacity and addressing Brookline's overcrowded schools and historic enrollment growth. All members of the combined boards discussed numerous options at length. Among many issues, the members raised the need to identify solutions that are on town-owned land, that include renovation needs in existing schools, and address enrollment growth that is happening in North and South Brookline. The board's deliberation was the culmination of the 6 month Alternative Site Study which include more than 20 public meetings, the consideration of 20 initial options and 14 final options, six public listening sessions, public hearings, and the work of five town departments and HMFH Architects. This Alternative Site Study is a continuation of the nearly eight-year process of addressing Brookline's historic enrollment growth through site selection studies, enrollment projections, a feasibility study, expand in place efforts that have built 60 classrooms in our existing buildings, and more than 60 public meetings in just the last three years alone. 

    The question in front of the boards was to decide on a single site or a multiple-site option to expand school capacity and address Brookline's overcrowded schools and historic enrollment growth. After more than two hours of discussion and deliberation the Select Board, School Committee and Ad Hoc Subcommittee voted in favor of expanding and renovating the Driscoll School to become a four section school (four classes at each grade level); studying a Baldwin School that would have two sections and include pre-school classrooms, a district special education program, and a district-wide native language support program; and reaffirming the April 3 decision to apply to request partnership with Massachusetts School Building Authority to revnovate the Pierce School. As directed by the November Special Town Meeting vote, this decision means that the Town will begin a study to determine the feasibility of renovating and expanding Driscoll into a four section school and engage in a study to determine the feasibilty of Baldwin as a two section school with specific district programs. The School and Building Departments will also continue their efforts to engage with the MSBA to renovate the Pierce School.

    June 6, 2018 

    Public Hearing on 9th School Alternative Site Study

    More than 150 community members attended the Public Hearing on the 9th School Alternative Site Study to hear public comment on the proposed options for expanding school capacity, addressing Brookline's overcrowded schools, and our historic enrollment growth. The hearing was jointly held by the Select Board, the School Committee and the Ad Hoc Subcommittee to the Advisory Committee.

    Over 40 people spoke on a wide range of issues and in favor of a variety of options. Issues included the size of schools, how students should get to school, the need for renovations at Pierce and Driscoll, a single site solution, bundling a number of the options as a multiple site solution, the need for supporting a decision, urging the boards to continue to move forward, the costs of the projects to taxpayers, the need to preserve existing open space, and even thanking the boards for their work, plus many other topics.

    The hearing was streamed live by the Brookline Interactive Group. The link to the video will be shared here when the video is posted by BIG.

    The collected boards will meet next on June 13th at 7:00 p.m. in the Select Board Hearing Room on the 6th floor of Town Hall.

    To review the presentation and other materials related to the 9th School Alternative Site Study, please clck here

    May 17 2018

    Joint Meeting of the Select Board, School Committee and Ad Hoc Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee - Presentation of Alternative Site Study Report on Phase I Options - After brief introductory remarks by chairs Neil Wishinsky and David Pollak, Special Assistant to the Superintendent Ben Lummis and HMFH Architects Principal Pip Lewis preented the 14 options that were studied over the last 6 months. Mr. Lummis summarized the complexity of the challenge the town faces because the ongoing enrollment has led to increased class sizes, inadequate core spaces, and leasing of classroom and administrative spaces. In addition, the Pierce School and Driscoll School both need renovation to upgrade and potentially enlarge facilities. Each option included a conceptual drawing, highlights and challenges, preliiminary project estimates for cost, and details such as size, number of new classrooms, parking and traffic considerations, and changes to open space and/or play space. After the presentation by Mr. Lewis and Mr. Lummis the board members asked questions and engaged in dicussion about the options presented and the process to select a single site or multiple site solution. The meeting ended with Chairman Wishinsky requesting that board members and members of the public suggest single-site or multiple-site solutions that they feel will address the needs of the town and schools. The boards will host a Public Hearing on the options under consideration on June 6 at 7:00 p.m. at Brookline High School. 

    Evaluation Criteria and Sheets for each Option

    Transportation Impact Assessments