Late June Construction Blog
When working with historic buildings there often seems that there may be a little surprise around the next corner. For King Edward with some hundred-plus-years of service and counting, this has certainly been the case.
With selective demolition inside the school, one discovery was a historic brick chimney in the east attic that had been hiding quietly behind the walls. With mechanical exhaust fans and ducting now removed, an interesting view up to the underside of a historical cupola that adorns the east roof was also revealed sparking our interest as to how to retain these unique features within view.
We recall too that this attic space was also for many years home to the museum started by Stuart Kennedy, a long-time teacher of King Edward between the 1950s and 1970s. With tables and shelves set up to display memorabilia and historical artifacts this was certainly a compelling use of residual space within the building. So too it the story that distracted youth were redirected with time spent maintaining the space for other students to enjoy, illuminating their imaginations along the way.
The attic is now slated for studio space and one can imagine artists collecting materials for their own creations – paying homage to the place of inquiry realized by Stuart Kennedy. This new use will require some spatial reconfiguration that includes dismantling of the chimney and adding additional structural support where it was a little lacking in 1912. Adding skylights throughout the space and where the historic chimney once stood will brighten the vaulting ceilings and re-exposed brick. With another skylight planned to frame the view of the historic cupola, a connection between the past and present will make for a dramatic attic transformation.
With the demolition of the 1960s addition underway, vermiculite insulation in the concrete block has been another surprise. While pure vermiculite is non-toxic, some 20th century products contain asbestos and as such abatement is required. With each affected area of the cinder block wall isolated, each brick is vacuumed clean before demolition can resume. Likewise in areas with lead paint, containment is required to prevent contamination and to be remediated before any destructive work can continue.
With the redevelopment of King Edward, many surprises are yet to be discovered but hopefully a few others are put to rest. One can breath easier knowing that the asbestos is gone and with the unexpected surprise of an inspiring cupola view, we can imagine that character moments like these will contribute immensely to this creative place.