Contractors In Place To Work On Weaver High School

Designs for the renovation of Weaver High School are being developed now that two architectural firms have been selected for the massive project in the city's North End. 

The S/L/A/M Collaborative in Glastonbury and Amenta Emma Architects in Hartford will draw up renovation plans for the 40-year-old building. School administrators have said they want an emphasis on natural light. 

Once expected to cost up to $100 million, the Weaver overhaul is being downsized after the projected enrollment dropped from 1,350 to 900 students, said Jack Butkus of the firm ARCADIS/O&G, Hartford's school construction program manager. The new scope is being determined in the design phase. 

"Our shared goal is to provide Weaver with a learning environment that aligns them with the highest performing Connecticut schools, transforming the existing facility into a desired destination for faculty and students," said Glenn Gollenberg, a S/L/A/M principal and a member of Achieve Hartford!'s community engagement committee. 

Both S/L/A/M and Amenta Emma have design portfolios across all commercial building categories. In education, S/L/A/M designed Capital Preparatory Magnet School and the Journalism and Media Academy Magnet School, both in Hartford. Amenta Emma designed Annie Fisher Montessori STEM and Magnet School in Hartford and the Pathways Academy of Technology and Design at Goodwin College in East Hartford. 

Hartford's Newfield Construction and New Britain-based Downes Construction were selected this fall to be the project's construction manager, Butkus said Monday. The competitors formed a joint venture, Newfield+Downes, for their bid. 

"They decided they'd be stronger if they teamed up for Weaver," he said. Newfield completed the Journalism and Media Academy Magnet School on Tower Avenue last year, while Downes is working on the renovation and expansion of West Middle Elementary School in Asylum Hill. 

Weaver is now empty. Its last program, the Culinary Arts Academy, has temporarily relocated to Lincoln Culinary Institute on Sigourney Street. The high school is scheduled to reopen for the 2018-19 school year. 

The school system had previously estimated that Weaver would be renovated "as new" by fall 2017. 

Built in 1974, the 370,000-square-foot Weaver was initially designed for 2,000 students. Enrollment in the Culinary Arts program was 300 in the 2013-14 school year. 

The four-year project would create a space for grades 9-12 in three, themed programs: The Academy of Hospitality and Tourism, an expansion of the Culinary Arts Academy; the Arts and Sciences Academy, a college preparatory modeled program; and the Academy of Architecture & Urban Design. 

The costs would largely be paid with state funds. 

Written by Kenneth Gosselin and Vanessa de la Torre of the Hartford Courant