North Andover, Mass., built a new high school in 1972. However, serious problems emerged at the school, which was designed with an open plan concept using numerous electrical rooftop units. In addition to high operating costs and shortcomings borne of inexpensive construction, the building had pervasive acoustical and circulation problems. Without classrooms CAPACITY1,500COST PER SQ FT$150.00FEATURED IN2004 Architectural Portfolio corridors, teaching spaces were spread out to reduce acoustical and visual distraction of students passing from one space to another. Despite numerous efforts at sound isolation, ambient noise, distractions and air quality became insurmountable obstacles.
Expanding enrollment led the town to study alternative solutions to renovate and expand or replace the 200,000-square-foot high school. The decision to build a new 300,000-square-foot “traditional” high school emerged as a feasible option.
The solution was to build a new school on the middle playing field and keep the existing school operational on the lower level during construction. The upper level was used as a construction area. Once the school was completed, the lower and upper levels were transformed into parking and play fields.
The academic building is organized into two wings connected by a “main street“ of administrative offices and public spaces. One wing is for general classrooms and the other is for science laboratories and math classrooms.
Main street connects the academic entrance with the community spaces and main entrance. Parking is available at both entrances, and serves athletic fields on the upper and lower levels.