Tobin Montessori & Vassal Lane Upper Schools Project

This project will provide new facilities for the Tobin Montessori School, Vassal Lane Upper School, Special Start and Department of Human Services Programs preschool and after school programs. In addition, the project provides an infrastructure opportunity to help mitigate street flooding in the neighborhood with the construction of a 1.5 million gallon underground storm water tank on-site. The project is being designed as a Net Zero Emissions Facility and includes renovation of the open space area around the school. 

Community Meeting Notice: Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane Upper Schools

The City of Cambridge invites you to a public meeting to discuss the Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane Schools Project on Wednesday, November 13th, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Tobin School Auditorium.

The City’s architect, Perkins-Eastman, and City officials will be presenting the community with three conceptual design options for the Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane Schools.

Community members will have an opportunity to ask questions, provide feedback and share ideas about these design options. We encourage you to attend as we value feedback from residents and the school community.

Information and Assistance:

To receive future updates via email regarding this project, please contact Kate Riley at kriley@cambridgema.gov / 617-349-4870. 


July 9, 2019

As part of the process to redevelop the Tobin and Vassal Lane Upper Schools, the City’s consultant, CDM Smith will be performing additional investigatory work on-site beginning the week of July 22nd. This work is anticipated to last for up to 10 days. Work hours are 7AM-5PM.

This work will include drilling test pits in three locations at the back of the school and on Callahan Playground as part of the feasibility study (see image below). No decisions have been made about the location of the school, but these subsurface investigations will aid the architects, Perkins Eastman, as they develop design options for the school. Each test pit is expected to take 2-3 days.

Traffic and street parking will not be impacted, but it will be loud at times.

For safety, the large playground behind the school will be closed during work hours for 2-3 days while crews work on the test pit location at the entrance to the playground. The tot lot will remain open, but it will be loud and visitors should use caution when navigating the area.

Coordination with the Department of Human Services and the Parks Department has ensured that there will be no interruption to playground use for camps and scheduled field use.

Information and Assistance:

For questions regarding this work, please contact Kate Riley, Community Relations Manager, 617-349-4870 / kriley@cambridgema.gov.  To view more information on this project such as updates, documents, etc., please visit www.CambridgeMA.gov/TobinSchool.

Aerial View of Test Pit Locations at Tobin School


May 30, 2019

All of the feedback received from the April 30th meeting has been posted under the “Documents” tab of this project page. 

The documents are:

  1. Community Feedback Responses_04302019: this document is a summary of all of the questions and feedback that was given during the meeting categorized by topic. The questions and comments are listed in black text and the responses from the team are listed in red text.
  2. Pictures of Feedback Boards: at the meeting, breakouts were formed by topic and questions and comments were gathered. These are the pictures of the boards for each breakout group showing each individual piece of feedback given.
  3. Parks Playgrounds Landscape and Storm Water Feedback Board: an aerial image of the site that was marked up by the Parks, Playgrounds, Landscape and Storm Water breakout group.
  4. NEW TOBIN LETTER: written feedback submitted on 5/1 by a member of the community.
Thank you to all who attended and provided thoughtful feedback. This is an important part of the feasibility work that is taking place now in advance of the design stage. We look forward to reconvening in the fall to present a minimum of three design options to the community.

The presentation from the April 30th Community Meeting can now be found under the "Documents" tab. 
Information for Neighbors & Community Members

April 16, 2019: Notice: Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane Upper School - Community Meeting

The City of Cambridge invites you to a public meeting to discuss the Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane Schools Project on Tuesday, April 30th from 6:30PM-8PM at the Tobin School Cafeteria.

This meeting will be an opportunity for residents to meet the design team from Perkins Eastman and to learn about the investigatory work they’ve done so far. In addition, residents will have the opportunity to break into small groups to brainstorm and provide feedback.

                                                                                                                                                                                 

We encourage you to attend, to learn more about the project, ask questions and provide feedback to the City as we continue the process of redesigning the Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane Schools. We look forward to working with residents and the school community throughout the project.

Information and Assistance

To receive future updates via email regarding this project, please contact Kate Riley at kriley@cambridgema.gov  / 617-349-4870. To view more information on this project such as updates, documents, and more, please visit www.cambridgema.gov/TobinSchool.


February 28, 2019

On Tuesday, February 26th, the City Council and School Committee held a round table/working meeting to discuss plans for the Tobin/VLUS school design and construction process. To view that meeting, please click here


January 29, 2019

On Tuesday, February 26th at 5:30PM there will be a Roundtable/Working Meeting between the City Council and the School Committee for the purpose of discussing plans for the Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane Schools design and construction process. This meeting will be televised. Please see "Documents" tab for more information. 


Information for Neighbors & Community Members

January 25, 2019: Notice: Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane Upper School - Community Meeting

The City of Cambridge invites you to the first public meeting to discuss the Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane Schools Project on Wednesday, February 6th from 6:30PM-8PM at the Tobin School Auditorium.

This initial meeting will be an opportunity for residents and the school community to learn more about the site’s history, the current subsurface geotechnical and environmental conditions and the implication of these factors on design, soil remediation and reconstruction. The City’s Licensed Site Professional (LSP) and geotechnical consultant, CDM/Smith, will present findings from initial exploratory efforts that have taken place over the past 18 months and discuss how this information relates to the design strategies and construction process.

At this meeting the City will also be introducing the selected architect for the project, Perkins Eastman, who also was the designer of the Dr. Martin Luther King Lower School and Putnam Avenue Upper School.

We encourage you to attend, to learn more about the project, ask questions and provide feedback to the City as we begin the process associated with the reconstruction of the Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane Schools. We look forward to working with residents and the school community throughout the project.


December 4, 2018

The Selection Committee has chosen Perkins Eastman architect firm for the design of the Tobin School. They were the highest ranked firm of the five firms interviewed and will now prepare a Feasibility Study proposal fee for the project. Perkins Eastman was the architect firm for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Putnam Ave Upper Schools. 


August 23, 2018

Over the past several months, the City has been conducting a geotechnical and environmental investigation at 197 Vassal Lane in preparation of the construction of the Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane Upper Schools, and the Department of Human Services Programs.

Since the location of both the existing school and field was a former clay pit that was used as a municipal dump site, the school and field are regulated under the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP). There is a Permanent Solution on the property with an Activity & Use Limitation (AUL) supporting its current use as a school and playground.

We were asked by the School Department to specifically consider whether it is feasible (or advisable) for the students to stay in the existing school during construction (as a “no-swing” space alternative). Our environmental consultants, CDM Smith, investigated this request and have provided a recommendation based on their results.

The conclusion of the analysis is a recommendation that students be relocated to a swing space so that the building is unoccupied during construction. This is based first and foremost on safety and public health concerns for students remaining within the site limits where remediation activities are being conducted associated with the former dump site. There are also additional impacts that may make it difficult for students to remain in the existing building. These are outlined in the summarizing memorandum under the "Documents" tab.

We are currently finalizing the complete report on the geotechnical and environmental investigation. When the report is complete, we will be scheduling a public meeting.

The next steps for the complex are to select a design team for the project and to conduct a feasibility study, understanding program needs, evolving siting options, and estimated costs in order to make a recommendation on the preferred alternative for the school. In the feasibility study, we expect to evaluate renovations to the existing facility or a portion thereof, or demolish and reconstruct on the existing location or in the field area. The designer selection process will begin in September.


July 11, 2017

As part of the process to redevelop the Tobin and Vassal Lane Upper Schools, a Concept Plan of a school layout shall be performed to determine the siting options to construct a new school facility. No decisions have been made on the location of the school, however geotechnical and environmental services are required to evaluate all siting options. These services will provide data for the future designer (architect) to evaluate all site options during a forthcoming Feasibility Study.

Generally, data will be collected by drilling test borings at key locations on the site, and shall include installation of groundwater monitoring wells to characterize and evaluate impacted groundwater and establish seasonal water elevation fluctuations. Environmental soil and groundwater analytical samples will be collected to evaluate the challenges of removal and/or capping of waste materials, and to evaluate how to remediate groundwater issues related to vapor intrusion during active construction and dewatering activities.

It is anticipated that this work will be completed by mid-year 2018.

In the coming weeks, you will begin to see activity in and around the Callanan Field area to perform environmental and site assessments. We expect to have these results later this summer and plan to schedule a community meeting in the fall to discuss the findings, next steps for the project, and solicit feedback from stakeholders.

While no decisions about the future Tobin and Vassal Lane Upper Schools project, location, design, etc. have been made at this time, we encourage stakeholders to begin their involvement in the planning process by visiting the project website at www.CambridgeMA.gov/TobinSchool and signing up for our email distribution list for announcements and updates under the “Contact” tab on the project page.

Information and Assistance:
To receive future updates via email regarding this project, please contact Dan Riviello at driviello@cambridgema.gov or 617.349.4825. To view more information on this project such as updates, documents, etc., please visit www.CambridgeMA.gov/TobinSchool.


The Cambridge Public Schools’ Innovation Agenda will result in the creation of four new upper school campuses serving students in grades 6 to 8. The Tobin and Vassal Lane Upper Schools, located at 197 Vassal Lane, Cambridge, will be the third school to be redesigned.

The project is currently undergoing a feasibility study which will be submitted to the City in Fall 2019. The City will evaluate the options presented and review feedback collected through a community meeting. The construction period will be from July 2020 through November 2024, with occupancy beginning September 2024 for the 2024/2025 school year. 

The Cambridge Public Schools’ Innovation Agenda will result in the creation of four new upper school campuses serving students in grades 6 to 8. The Tobin and Vassal Lane Upper Schools, located at 197 Vassal Lane, Cambridge, will be the third school to be redesigned.

Michael Black

Construction Program Manager

Phone: 617-349-4251

Email: mblack@cambridgema.gov

Kate Riley

Community Relations Manager

Phone: 617-349-4870

Email: kriley@cambridgema.gov


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Page was last modified on 10/24/2019 5:09 PM
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