Demolition of Portland's Baxter School starts June 22

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 0

PORTLAND — Demolition of the Percival P. Baxter Elementary School is scheduled to begin on Monday, June 22.

The school is being razed to make way for a new, 440-student elementary school that is expected to be ready for the 2011 school year.

Two programs housed at 150 Ocean Ave., Portland Adult Education and the Multilingual & Multicultural Center, have been moved to make way for the demolition, but their contact phone and fax numbers remain the same.

The adult ed office will be in the first-floor guidance suite at the Portland Arts and Technology High School, 196 Allen Ave., until Aug. 3, when it will move to Riverton Elementary School, 1600 Forest Ave. Adult ed programs at West School will not be affected. 

The MMC has been operating at Lyman Moore Middle School, 171 Auburn St., since June 1.     

Architect Michael Johanning, of WBRC, said the contractor, Ledgewood Construction, will try to reuse as much of the old school as possible so the school can be eligible for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certification, the $20,000 cost of which is being paid by a private donor.

Johanning said much of the old masonry may be used as fill under the new building, while the remaining materials will be handled in accordance with the U.S. Green Building Council’s waste management guidelines.  

The school was originally expected to cost more than $20 million, $19.7 million of which would be repaid by the state. About $14.5 million of that amount was earmarked for construction, but Ledgewood Construction’s bid came in at $10.7 million, about 26 percent below the original estimate. 

“The construction costs will be reviewed by the state over the next few weeks before they are finalized,” Johanning said. 

The lower-than-expected costs will allow additional elements to be incorporated into the design.

One of those elements is adding graffiti protection to a height of 10 feet above the finished grade of at the perimeter of the building. Johanning said a clear coating will be sprayed on the masonry of the building, which will make it easier to clean up vandalism. 

“Considering the mess they made at Riverton, that’s a good thing,” said School Committee member Sarah Thompson, who serves on the building committee. 

The lower cost will also allow the construction of bleachers in the gym, adding stage curtains and upgrading stage lights. Exterior sun shades will be added to south-facing windows of the library to keep it cool and stainless steel door frames will be used to help with long-term maintenance.

The century-old Nathan Clifford Elementary School on Falmouth Street will close when the Ocean Avenue School opens. Those students will attend the new school along with students from neighborhoods previously served by the Baxter school, which closed in 2003.  

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or


p-oceanaveschool.jpgA conceptual design of a $45,000 art installation by Brooklyn, N.Y.-based May & Watkins Design for the Ocean Avenue Elementary School. (Contributed photo)

Sidebar Elements

‘Art down to a science’

PORTLAND — Earth, wind, fire and water will be represented in the form of kinetic sculptures – ranging in height from 5 to 22 feet – at the Ocean Avenue Elementary School when it opens in 2011.

The $45,000 installation was chosen from a pool of about 40 designs
submitted through the Maine Arts Commission’s Percent for Art
competition. The winner was chosen by a panel of five local
judges, including the architect for the new school, Michael
Johanning, of WBRC. 

The installation, “Germination,” by Brooklyn, N.Y.-based May & Watkins Design, is intended to highlight the environmentally responsible aspects of the new school, which will seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certification from the U.S. Building Council thanks to a $20,000 private donation to the district. 

MAC’s Kerstin Gilg said there are four outdoor sculptures planned for the entrance to the school, the largest standing 22 feet tall to represent the sun (or fire). That sculpture will use a 20-watt solar panel to power a motor and camshaft that will rotate an array of Plexiglas pedals reflecting different colored lights on the ground near the installation.

A flower-like sculpture is planned to illustrate wind power. There will be small blades that rotate with the wind, but no electricity will be generated. That sculpture will be between 15 and 18 feet tall.

To represent hydro power, a sculpture will be incorporated into the awning of the roof. In conceptual designs, it appears as though the sculpture will placed at the end of an awning so that rain will rotate a pinwheel.  

“It’s going to be an exciting addition to the school,” Gilg said. 

While 40 artists submitted ideas for the project, the committee only invited four to make detailed presentations.

One person suggested reusing metal from the old Baxter School (the demolition of which will start June 22) and hooking up a wireless interface that could analyze the weather. Another design was an interactive piece with drums and an underground network of tubes that would allows kids on one end of the playground to speak to their friends at the other. 

Gilg said the committee seemed most impressed with “Germination” because of its complete concept and aesthetic appeal. 

Gilg said May & Watkins has been building kinetic art for public places for more than 20 years and comes with an excellent track record. Although a maintenance plan for art has not been drafted, he said the committee, including Johanning, is confident about the art’s durability. 

The committee also pressed the designers about safety, since there would be moving parts. 

“There isn’t going to be anything flailing around,” Gilg said. “They have an excellent track record. I think they have the art down to a science.”

Randy Billings can be reached a 781-361 ext. 100 or