FALL RIVER — The B.M.C. Durfee High School Building Committee held another public forum on Thursday night to update community residents on the project to build a new Durfee.
More than 70 residents saw detailed renderings and floor plans for what the new Durfee may look like if and when it opens it doors on Elsbree Street. Residents also got to ask questions and offer input.
The public forum included the following highlights:
1. The color renderings show a three-story building with a larger footprint than the current school. The new high school would be designed to evoke the original Durfee on Rock Street, and include a clock tower in the front. Troy Randall, a principal partner at Ai3 Architects, showed a slideshow presentation that indicates the new Durfee would also have two large center courtyards, which would be visible to students and faculty on all floors. The school would be built of brick and stone.
2. The floor plans for each level are very similar, with hallways designed to allow for a better flow of people and integrated classrooms. The building’s design would allow for natural light to permeate the hallways. The floor plans also show that a 750-seat auditorium would be built as part of the new Durfee while the existing larger auditorium would be converted into a standalone community performing arts center. The current fieldhouse would be renovated and incorporated into the new school as well.
3. A group of older residents expressed concerns about the fate of the current Durfee bell tower, which under the current design would be incorporated into the front of the new high school. Some residents noted that people have raised thousands of dollars for the existing tower and the thousands of memorial bricks and benches in the surrounding plaza. Other people who spoke in favor of the new Durfee project said they believed relocating the bells to a new tower incorporated into the school would make them more accessible to the public and better evoke the old Rock Street school, which Ken Pacheco, the chief operating officer for the Fall River Public Schools, said has been a driving factor in the new Durfee project all along.
4. In an unrelated discussion, Joyce B. Rodrigues, a member of Durfee’s Class of 1962, spoke after the Durfee presentation on the idea of moving a set of historic murals in the old Durfee Tech Auditorium. The murals were commissioned in 1936 by the Works Progress Administration and painted by John E. Mann, a Fall River artist, to show Fall River’s history. Rodrigues estimated that it would cost around $3 million to clean, remove, store, reinstall and restore the murals to the new Durfee.
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