New Designs for Alvirne Renovation Excite School Board

August 25, 2017


new auditorium

by Len Lathrop

Before the school board took up its regular agenda Monday night, members of Harvey Construction and Lavallee Brensinger Architects were there to update the school board members of what has happened in preparation for the Palmer Vocational Technical Center renovation and the Alvirne High School renovation.

After the pledge of allegiance to the flag, Chairman Lavoie asked for public input.  Longtime Middle School music director now the District Music Director, R. B. Scagnelli, came forward.  He started by saying how appreciative he was with the changes to showcasing the performing art students and how impressed he was with the outcome of the redesign of the auditorium and the work that has gone into meeting the students’ needs.  In the audience with Scagnelli were Jen LaFrance and Lauren Denis, Theatre Arts Director, and Mike Gallagan, Choral Director, who all nodded when Lafrance noted that Rob had said it all.

Harvey was hired as the District’s Construction Manager on June 28.  Since then they have been meeting with architects and consultants for mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection as well as with the Hudson Fire Department and the site engineer Hayner/Swanson.  Harvey also investigated the existing conditions within the building to determine how it was built and what the project would need to be changed, or demolished.  With Alvirne Principal Steve Beals they worked to understand utilities, above-ceiling conditions, building structure and floor plans.

Lance Whitehead, the architect who leads the project, talked about refinements to the plans.  On the first floor, using the current Checker’s kitchen location to be the school’s kitchen: a saving as much of the plumbing and electrical are already there, an idea which he quickly credited to Beals.  The present school kitchen is 1,900 square feet and with this new plan it will be 3,700 square feet.  Additionally, by moving the hallway the new cafeteria will be bigger by 800 square feet and the students will travel in a straight line from one wing to the other.  Some changes in the new art area will also make another 800 square feet of classroom space.

Whitehead introduced Jay Doherty, a colleague who has worked with him on the project.  Doherty explained the proposed changes to the new Checker’s Restaurant where the diners will look out on the farm area, and the food preparation will be running along the inside of the building.  These were minor changes.  Doherty then talked about the redesign of the auditorium: while the superstructure remains the same, by rotating the layout 135 degrees the stage increases from 54 square feet to 100 square feet, while the number of seats only increases by 10 going to 650. The neatest thing appears to be seat size increasing from 17 inches to 23 inches on the main floor and to 21 inches in the balcony levels.

The next step is for Harvey to have initial cost estimates to present to the school board on Sept. 11, then an overall schedule to include phasing plans, and logistic plans for the school board to review.  The best comment from the board, all being very positive, was from member Patty Langlois stating “I can sell this.”