The preservation and adaptive reuse of the 1920s Machon Elementary School involved converting the original school building and the replacement of its 1963 addition with a new contemporary structure. The independent living community features 38 one-bedroom units for individuals aged 55+. Rehabilitating the historic exterior involved repairing the copper cornice and rebuilding sections of the deteriorated façade. Working closely with the Swampscott Historical Commission, the defunct windows were replaced with aluminum historic replicas, existing slate chalk boards were salvaged and used as decorative interior elements, and original wood doors were reclaimed as a screen wall in the main entry lobby.
The 17,383 square foot addition complements the original school by rhythmically echoing its cornice and window groupings, while the new façade utilizes cement fiber panels and brick veneer to provide a visual connection to the historic structure. Shallow bay windows were employed as a design element to delineate residential use. Reimagining the existing two-story auditorium, the team designed and inserted a third structural floor to create needed volume for the community’s library and screening room. The main entrance of the existing school sat several feet above grade and was reconfigured to provide a new focal point and accessible entry for residents. The exterior program emphasizes a strong visual connection between the landscaped site, the neighborhood, and the open public space.
The units are affordable to households earning less than 60% of area median income (AMI), eight of which are further restricted for extremely low-income households earning less than 30% of AMI. The project complied with the Stretch Energy Code and followed Energy Star Homes. Resident amenities include a community room with a grand fireplace, a library and screening room, laundry facilities, mailroom, and a fitness center. A full-time on-site service coordinator will connect residents to area resources and service providers as well as facilitate social, cultural, and wellness activities.