Managing Success

Athol Community Elementary School
Athol, Massachusetts

SMMA was chosen to provide Owner’s Project Management (OPM) services by the Athol-Royalston Regional School District in 2012 for the construction of a new elementary school. The District will replace three undersized, aging neighborhood schools in Athol, a town of approximately 11,500 in Worcester County, with a new construction serving approximately 545 children in pre-kindergarten through grade 4.

The project began with a feasibility study, during which multiple school sizes, locations and options were analyzed—including replacing only one of the Town’s elementary schools, consolidating two of the schools, and, finally, consolidating all three schools, all at different locations across the town. 

Given the cultural history of neighborhood schools, it was critical to the success of the project that open lines of communication be maintained with parents and community members throughout the feasibility and design processes. This was achieved via public forums, neighborhood gatherings, and multiple joint town-board meetings. 

The new school is situated on Town-owned land, adjacent to the existing Athol-Royalston Middle School. Designed by Mount Vernon Group Architects and built by Fontaine Brothers, Inc., the project is MA-CHPS certified and incorporates the latest thinking in sustainable school design, such as: a wood chip-fired heating plant, daylighting, displacement ventilation, and LED lighting throughout.

* All photographs courtesy of Mount Vernon Group Architects