BRISTOL - Details on how the old Memorial Boulevard School will be reconfigured into the new Memorial Boulevard Intradistrict Arts Magnet School have been released.
Angel Cahill, from Quisenberry Arcari Malik LLC, the architectural firm hired to remodel the building, said her firm specializes in educational architecture, municipal architecture, historic preservation and arts-oriented buildings.
She described how the building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, will mostly retain its exterior appearance, with the front entrance lowered to the ground floor to make it more accessible, and a light canopy added for weather protection. A small addition will be put on the back.
The ground-floor level where the swimming pool and gymnasium once were will be reconfigured to accommodate a “black box” theater - a small theater where seating can be arranged in multiple ways, an art gallery, music rooms and a recording studio, with a new gym added in back.
The first floor level plan is dominated by orchestra seating is for the main theater. Cahill said the seating will be reduced from 900 seats to about 750, to make room for formal lobby space, including a ticket booth, coat check and concessions. The rest of the floor will house classrooms and administrative and staff offices.
The second and third floors will house mezzanine and balcony theater seating, as well as academic classrooms.
The plan is for the school to accommodate 525 students in grades six through 12, chosen through a lottery system. The building closed as a school in 2012 and the target date for its reopening is August 2022, when it will be 100 years old.
“This is a project that’s really important to just about every aspect of our community,” said Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu. “This school is going to be a gateway to a new downtown.”
Through almost 10 years of discussion about what to do with the century-old school, “one thing has remained steady - this community wants something special to happen at the Memorial Boulevard,” she said.
Michael Dietter, district director of special services and chair of the arts magnet school building committee, said the committee has added Twitter to its outlets for the public to access information about the project. “We will be posting information @buildingmbiams,” he said.
That is in addition to the committee posting agendas, minutes, meeting schedules, and more on the Board of Education www.bristolk12.ct.us and city www.bristolct.gov websites, he noted. “One of the functions of the city website is you can sign up for automatic updates about this project.”
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.