At Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, the Owner and SLAM faced similar requirements for a fast-paced design and construction project on a tight site. Capital Prep was a $32M addition/renovation project which was ready to bid in just six months. At the outset of the project, we knew that to accomplish the schedule we would need to staff the project with two teams, core and shell addition, and renovations; and design the addition to expedite the construction process. In our initial discussions, we established a process acceptable to all stakeholders for decision making. In any fast-track process, a decision flowchart can help facilitate the design schedule. Utilizing our in-house, construction estimator, we confirmed project scope with budget before beginning design. Avoiding re-documentation is essential to staying on schedule. The program and space needs concurrent with data collection, were confirmed during the first few weeks of the project. This involved the ability to staff the project and to allow concurrent activities rather than a linear process. Room data sheets were developed for all spaces defining room finishes (floors, walls, ceiling) casework, A/V and technology requirements, electrical, plumbing and HVAC needs, which served as the basis for the team’s design effort. This early documentation of requirements allowed an expedited construction document phase.
The three goals of the project were: Renovation of the school while respecting the urban site and context, as well as the style, material, and color palette of the original building; Preservation of enough site area for an athletic field in support of a comprehensive athletic program and the downtown north community; Completion of the project on an aggressive schedule (4 months design; 12 months construction).
The exteriors of the existing building were completely restored to the original 1927 design, while incorporating new high performance double-hung windows and wood doors. The new gymnasium addition was designed to coordinate seamlessly with the style and character of the existing school building, in tune with the client’s vision. Special attention was paid to harmonizing the new addition’s façade with the color palette and subtle ornamentation of the original. All existing brick veneer was carefully cleaned and restored. The interior design preserved the elaborate ceiling of the existing auditorium, which was re-purposed as the school’s spacious new double-height library, while the original gymnasium was also re-purposed to serve as the new cafeteria.
The new building had such a profound impact on the Downtown North neighborhood and received the Hartford Preservation Alliance Award for rehabilitation and new construction. With the complexity of re-purposing existing spaces, our team was able to reduce energy consumption of the existing structure to help meet energy efficiency goals set for the project.