Manchester-Essex Regional Middle/High School is situated in the fabled North Shore area of Massachusetts. The two coastal communities of Manchester and Essex regionalized in support of their new 750-student facility. Both towns are steeped in seafaring history, with Essex being particularly noted for CAPACITY750COST PER SQ FT$235.00FEATURED IN2011 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYSpecialized three-centuries-old ship-building industry.
To celebrate this tradition, maritime themes are integral to the design. These include wooden "ship ribs" on the exterior facade of the school and along the three-story main circulation corridor; a crafted lobby bench that is shaped like a commercial fishing "dory;" ship lantern-themed stair terminals; and billowing sail-like walls projecting through three levels of the central corridor up to the ample longitudinal skylights, bringing daylight to all interior levels.
The school’s plan includes separate middle school and high school academic wings with shared facilities for science, art and technology. The middle school wing is organized in integrated team areas. Core facilities include the auditorium, gymnasium, library/media center and kitchen/cafeteria, which are shared by middle and high school students at different times. The district’s central office also is included in the plan, with separate entry and parking.
The project is considered one of the "greenest" schools in Massachusetts. It includes a 40kW photovoltaic array; high-efficiency MEP systems and components; reduced water-usage systems; maximum daylighting and fresh-air interior environment; high-recyclable-content building materials; and an exemplary acoustical environment.
Separate entries for academic and community areas are a feature of this design. During off-school hours, the community can enjoy the gymnasium, library, cafeteria, auditorium and other support spaces with no direct access to the academic/administration areas.
The project has been embraced by the Manchester and Essex communities, and by the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which has designated Manchester-Essex Regional Middle/High School as a "Model School" for the state.