Developing a Cohesive Strategy Can be the Key to Project Success

by James E. LaPosta Jr.

When JCJ Architecture was selected by the city of Haverhill to undertake the feasibility phase for the Caleb Dustin Hunking School, we knew that significant structural issues in the existing building had caused the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to prioritize the project. With short-term repairs in place, the district embarked on an initiative to renovate or replace the school.

Working with districts during the MSBA project feasibility process is always fluid and informative. In the case of the Hunking School, we worked with Mayor James Fiorentini, Superintendent James Scully, and their teams to ensure the due diligence requirements of MSBA would be met, and we began to understand the city’s dynamics and constraints.

With few options for relocation to another site and significant structural deficiencies in the existing building, the team realized that construction of a new school on the existing site was the only reasonable option. Through our visioning sessions with teachers, parents, and administrators and our dialogue with boards and elected officials, an approach began to take shape. Knowing the public had not supported a school construction bond since the late 1990s and understanding the existing municipal debt was soon due to be retired, the team’s efforts began to coalesce around a strategy of maximizing function in new construction.