New building for Quincy Upper School, Boston Arts Academy could open 2017
By Ling-Mei Wong
The Josiah Quincy Upper School and the Boston Arts Academy desperately need larger facilities and a $260 million school at Parcel 25 would meet those needs. Combining the two schools at one location would save cost and could be ready by 2017, said school officials at an Oct. 8 meeting.
One building at Kneeland and Hudson streets would allow both schools to share space for a library, cafeteria, kitchen and nurse suite, said Pip Lewis, principal architect at HMFH. The building will be about 10 storeys, based on enrollment and programming needs.
The school would be the most expensive one in the state, surpassing $200 million for Newton North High School or the “Taj Mahal,” as one elementary school parent put it.
“We are combining two projects, compared to Newton North,” said Carleton Jones, executive director of capital and facilities management for the Boston Public Schools. “If we build Boston Arts Academy by itself and the Upper School by itself, it would be way more than $260 million. … It’s not an appropriate analogy.”
A downtown location allows Quincy Upper to remain in Chinatown and brings Boston Arts Academy closer to the Theater District.
The Josiah Quincy Upper School was a pilot school launched in 1990 by then-Quincy Elementary principal Bak Fun Wong and concerned parents. Two years ago, it became the first BPS school to offer the International Baccalaureate program.
“We’re the only school — public or private — in New England for IB programming from grades 6 to 12 continuously,” said Richard Chang, co-headmaster of Quincy Upper. “It’s a very rich and rigorous program used in many exceptional schools.”
The school facilities had to be authorized for IB certification , which do not include science or media labs. “They allowed us to be an IB school with the understanding that the state had a plan,” said Steve Cirasuolo, Quincy Upper co-headmaster. “In two and a half years, we need to go through recertification. If we do not have a plan, we may lose our IB status.”
Boston Arts Academy is the first public arts and performing academy in Boston. It shares space with Fenway High School and is in a former U.S. Postal Service warehouse.
“Theater monologues are practiced in the hallway,” said Joy Bautista, Boston Arts Academy’s academic dean. “Counseling happens in the stair well. … Too often, children in Boston receive sporadic instruction in the arts.”
Quincy Upper is on two campuses, with middle school students in a modular building on Washington Street and high school students in the former Abraham Lincoln school on Arlington Street. Once the new school is completed, the Arlington Street building will become an elementary school, Jones said.
As for the Washington Street lot where the modular building is, the city does not yet have plans, said Mike Galvin, chief of public property for the city of Boston.
The project is currently in the feasibility planning phase and will not start construction.
“It’s very exciting for downtown neighborhoods to add space for schools,” said state Rep. Aaron Michlewitz. “Young families make up the demographics and heart of these neighborhoods.”
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