Meriden’s Maloney High School construction moves along, though largely hidden

Meriden’s Maloney High School construction moves along, though largely hidden


MERIDEN — The enormous three-story, modern classroom wing on Maloney High School’s north side is nearly complete from the exterior, but passersby on Gravel Street can hardly see the progress. Across town at Platt High School, the same cannot be said with progress apparent from all angles.

Students returning to the school in late August will likely be impressed by the new crescent-shaped wing that contains 93,000 square feet of classrooms, which are easier to view from inside the current building. With an up-to-date appearance and covered in glass, the structure offers a stark contrast from the “old” section of the school, constructed in the late 1950s and renovated 40 years ago.

The curtain blocking the new area of the school continues to run through a large section of the old building, but it will be dropped in dramatic fashion in coming months. Students and teachers are expected to move into the new space sometime in November, which will allow for demolition of some of the area blocking the view. Those traveling down Gravel Street will then have a better perspective on the new building.

“This is just a stand-alone building until we build a connection,” said Karrie Kratz, project manager from Gilbane Building Co, as she stood in the new building last week. “But we’re getting the lockers in, the flooring in, the finished ceilings...”

The $107.5 million high school project, similar to the $111.8 million project at Platt, is a hybrid renovation. It includes the construction of a new wing that will have two connections to the old building, demolition of parts of the old building and renovations to the interior and exterior of the building.

The project began in June 2013 and stretched throughout this past school year, although it was done with little disruption to students and staff. For the first few months of the upcoming school year, very little will change.

Workers were busy inside the building and out last week, all with different tasks. Some were preparing the grounds to ensure the proper elevation of the school and others were preparing a paved entryway to the north side of the building. Inside, workers were drywalling while some began installing utilities, among other tasks.

There is a clear difference between the old and new building areas with higher ceilings and curved hallways in the new sections. Classrooms are a similar size, but modernized and will receive new furniture once completed. The building is designed to function more efficiently from a mechanical standpoint.

A two-story bridge will connect the freshman academy section to the new wing, but until that is finished there will only be one direct connection. The connection will run through what is now a science classroom and allow students to access both sections of the school.

Between the two structures will be a water garden or a rain garden, which is considered an upgrade over the little-used courtyard in the current school. It will include a natural water runoff system with boulders that were dug out of one of the Gravel Street properties purchased for the project.

“It’s a pretty extensive stormwater control system and it saves us from having to put in piping drainage,” Kratz said.

Those walking through the new wing might be surprised the building is only a few months from completion. The long, curved hallways remain mostly bare while almost all of the classrooms are empty. The utilities are yet to be hooked up and turned on, but Kratz is more than optimistic about the completion.

“It’s getting pretty close,” she said, having seen the full building constructed over the last 12 months.

Kratz is already looking to the next phase of the project and the challenges that come with it. Once students and staff move into the new section, a large portion of the north end of the school will be demolished. The demolition will occur just feet from the new building.

“It will be right up against the new building,” she said, talking with Assistant School Superintendent Michael S. Grove. “Don’t expect anyone to pay attention in class, they’ll be watching the demolition...I’ve been doing this for years and I could still sit there and watch the demolition all day long. It’s just instant progress.”

The project is something students and teachers are excited about, Grove said, and he hopes the community expresses the same sentiment.

“I’m really excited, the buildings really needed an improvement,” he said. “Teachers can’t wait to move in. There will be a transition process, but they see this beautiful new building and why wouldn’t you want to be in it? We are pleased with the progress and glad everything remains on schedule.”

The second phase also includes the renovation of the pool area and locker rooms, in addition to transforming some of the eastern section of the building into a freshman academy. Freshmen will have their own classroom area of the school for core studies before moving into the large classroom wing. Next summer, crews will focus on the cafeteria and kitchen area.

“We knew it would take 18 months to finish this phase,” she said. “This next phase will be a sprint. We will be working less than a year doing almost the same, about, of square feet.” 203-317-2266 Twitter: @DanBrechlinRJ

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