Consultant lays out three building options for Taconic High School project


PITTSFIELD - The city's design consultant for the new-look Taconic High School on Monday unveiled three possible building scenarios for the Valentine Road campus.

During a PowerPoint presentation, to the Pittsfield School Building Needs Commission, D R A of Waltham showed the concepts of a new secondary school, an expanded/renovated Taconic and a combination that would include some new construction and retain some parts of the 45-year-old structure.

The drawings superimposed over pictures of the Taconic campus were rough sketches that need plenty of refinement, according to D R A President Carl Franceschi.

"We don't want to get hung up on design," he said. "They are conceptual, but realistic enough to consider."

Designing project options is the latest step in the ongoing feasibility study to determine, logistically, financially and educationally the best way to either upgrade or build a new Taconic.

Franceschi said the goal over the next several months is to develop a schematic report with an option that can be presented to the Massachusetts School Building Authority in late September. The MSBA and city are currently collaborating on study that also includes finalizing the details of the vocational curriculum in terms of enrollment, cost and floor space needs.

Pittsfield Public Schools Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless hopes the School Committee will finalize the education plan later this month before submitting it to state education officials for final review and approval. About 80 percent of the Taconic project will be funded through the MSBA. The renovation/expansion concept calls for one- and two-story additions between the existing school and Valentine Road. Franceschi said this is the most challenging option as the renovation time-period would include the 180 days classes are in session.

A second scenario involves erecting a three-story academic/vocational building across from Taconic's main entrance. Except for the gymnasium and auditorium, the rest of the existing school would be demolished and what's left would be renovated and linked to the new building.

The third option shows a completely new school, including the three-story academic/vocational building, which would benefit Taconic's athletic programs.

"If the footprint is more compact, you could gain more [ball] fields," Franceschi said.

City residents, business leaders and students soon will have an opportunity to weigh in on the options for a revamped or new Taconic High School. D R A plans to hold at least one forum with Taconic students late next week, which pleased junior Shea Hassett, a Taconic student representative on the commission.

"Two forums would be good," Hassett said. "Not every [student] needs to comment, but they all need to know what's going on."

Hassett and other students have felt left out of the planning process leading up to the feasibility study, according to commission co-chairwoman Kathleen A. Amuso.

"The concern in the public is there hasn't been enough student input," Amuso said. "I just want to make sure students are involved appropriately."

D R A plans to conduct at least two open public forums, one each in June and July, before submitting it's schematic report by an Aug. 7 deadline. The report is expected to be discussed at the MSBA board meeting of Sept. 24.

To reach Dick Lindsay:, or (413) 496-6233


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