Mr. David Billings RA
Property and Construction
Public Facilities Department
City of Boston, MA
The site for the Orchard Gardens School in Roxbury, MA, demands an efficient use of functions on a tightly restricted, urban site. Vehicular drop-offs for buses and cars were separated onto two different streets to avoid conflict and congestion. We provided several different outdoor spaces for play and learning. Traditional schoolyard games are illustrated in brightly colored paint on asphalt surfaces along with educational charts and diagrams. A tot-lot was provided with a steel play sculpture and a composition resilient surfacing that offers maximum safety while requiring minimal maintenance. In addition to the hard surface play areas, there is a "nature walk" and planting beds for the children to be able to participate in and learn about gardening. The substantial grade change at the Ambrose Street façade of the school created challenges to our site planning goals, but also enabled us to incorporate an amphitheater into a slope that teachers can use as outdoor classrooms when weather permits.
Concerns for safety are addressed in a number of areas in addition to the resilient surfacing at the tot lot. The site and parking lot are both well-lighted for nighttime use; the tot-lot is enclosed in an ornamental steel fence to allow teachers to better control the movements of the children for whom they are responsible; and perimeter fencing is also found along frontages at Ambrose Street, Melnea Cass Boulevard, and the parking lot across Albany Street from the school. The site for the building is fortunate to have a 100-car parking lot available so close to the school.
Hammer Design was comprehensively involved in the site planning for this project, being responsible for the siting of the building and the design of the following elements: hard-surfaced and resilient-surfaced play areas, design of schoolyard paving graphics, design and selection of play equipment, the car drop-off along Ambrose Street and bus drop-off along Albany Street, the Ambrose Street Amphitheater, the planting design for the entire site, the vehicular drive to the parking lot and lastly, the parking lot itself.