Josiah Quincy Upper School Boston

New school takes shape in Boston’s Chinatown

A topping off ceremony was held in December for the Josiah Quincy Upper School project under construction on Washington Street in Chinatown. On track to open in September 2024, the six-story, 185,000-square-foot building will welcome 650 students in grades 6 through 12. Turner Construction is the general contractor for the $170-million job, and GBPCA contractor PJ Kennedy & Sons is handling the plumbing and HVAC.

When The Pipeline visited the construction site, Gene Moscone, PJ Kennedy’s foreman for the project, showed an oil/water separator his crew had installed adjacent to a sump pump at the base of the building’s elevators.

“I’ve never done a separator like that inside a building before,” said Moscone, who has been a Local 12 member for more than 30 years. “It’s unusual.”

Bob Collins, project manager with PJ Kennedy, explained that the project also includes an in-ground rainwater infiltration system. It will distribute water from the roof’s drain storm piping system.

“We installed approximately 2,000 feet of 12-inch PVC Schedule 40 pipe,” he said. “We pre-drilled out the pipes’ holes at our prefab shop in Dorchester.”

PJ Kennedy & Sons plumbing Boston Josiah Quincy Upper School
The PJ Kennedy & Sons crew installs a leeching system for the Josiah Quincy Upper School project.

Located in a densely populated neighborhood, the compact, one-acre site could not accommodate any outdoor space at the ground level. Designed by HMFH Architects, the building will include an outdoor classroom, activity complex, and gardens on its roof where students and faculty will be able to get some fresh air. Other amenities will include an auditorium, a black box theater, a media center, a cafeteria, and a gymnasium.

The school’s designers also considered the site’s close proximity to the Southeast Expressway and the Mass. Pike, and the highways’ impact on the building’s indoor environment. The project includes an advanced displacement ventilation system with high-performance filters and rooftop air handlers to maximize the air quality.

According to Mike Pirrello, superintendent with Turner Construction, the building has some other unique design aspects that make it a challenging build.

“For a shorter building, it has complex steel,” he says. “There’s a big cantilever at the auditorium and another at the gymnasium with a three-story truss supporting them.”

There are structural constraints imposed by the way the truss system works in the building, Pirrello explains. The crew will be pouring concrete from the first floor through the third-floor level, and then waiting until the building is fully erected to pour the roof concrete.

“The roof concrete will engage the truss system within the building,” he says. “Then we can go back and load the other floors.”

A long time in development, plans for the Josiah Quincy school go back to Mayor Tom Menino and have spanned three administrations, Moscone notes. It is one of the biggest ground-up public buildings that the city has erected in many years.