Today’s schools have challenges and opportunities that were not even a consideration for educational institutions 20 or 30 years ago. Changes in technology, security, energy efficiency, flexible curriculum delivery, and more inclusive accommodation of special education including autism spectrum disorders are among the areas requiring attention and consideration in the design of a modern school that meets the needs of a contemporary educational program.
As an example, flexible learning spaces allow teachers to customize their classrooms. Furniture and equipment that is portable and can easily be reconfigured multiple ways serve not only to facilitate individual and project-based learning as needed, but also can accommodate students with disabilities who may require a customized configuration of furniture and/or lighting.
Hundreds of Auburn residents and others came out for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony at Auburn Middle School on August 29th. The ceremony was preceded by a tour of the new 100,000 square-foot building, where visitors were impressed with the bright and spacious lobby, classrooms, media center, cafeteria, and more. LPA had conducted a feasibility study in 2013 which determined that the new 560-student middle school serving grades 6, 7, and 8 was needed.
The educational program is a team-based curriculum, and includes state-of-the art flexible science labs utilizing short-throw LCD projectors, laptops, and tablets. The building is divided into separate academic and community-use spaces by a sky-lit entrance space which also serves as a lobby for the gymnasium, cafeteria, and school store.
The 130-seat auditorium in the Hogan Center at the College of the Holy Cross known as Room 519 was underutilized and “tired,” according to Director of Conference Services and Campus Center, Jeremiah “Chip” O’Connor.
“It was a challenging room to use and a lot of people didn’t like it, said Chip. “We took the opportunity of the necessary rehab to make it into something that people had been asking for.”
LPA was honored with a Merit Award for Design Excellence at AIA Central Massachusetts’ Annual Design Awards, held on November 21st at the Higgins House at WPI. The award was given in recognition of LPA’s work on Sherwood Middle School in Shrewsbury. The 900-student school was completed in early 2013 and was featured as the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General’s “Story of a Building,” and was recognized by School Planning and Management, and the Metal Construction Association. LPA is honored to be recognized by the AIA CM, which represents about 100 members comprising the architecture community of Central Massachusetts.
Members of the community came together on May 7th to consider the future of Worcester’s acclaimed Mechanics Hall, brainstorming on ways to maintain the Hall’s position as an historical and acoustical masterpiece, while infusing 21st century appeal to attract audiences of diverse age and cultural interest. Approximately 150 community leaders attended the forum in an effort to discuss the Hall’s position as a catalyst for community engagement.
LPA’s Vice President, Kathryn Crockett, to Join Panel Discussion at Statewide Annual Preservation Conference
This year’s Massachusetts Historic Preservation Conference is being held in Worcester at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy on August 14. The opening and closing reception will be held at Mechanics Hall. The preservation community will convene to share ideas, network, discuss challenges, and learn from each other to strengthen collective preservation efforts across the state.
Given LPA’s expertise in historic preservation, we were asked to participate in a panel discussion for the session “Preservation Techniques and Technologies: Asking the Right Questions”. Afterwards, a walking tour of successful historic projects, including the Hanover Theater, designed by LPA, will take place. For more details, please see the conference website.
J.R. Briggs Elementary School in Ashburnham is certified MA-CHPS (Massachusetts Collaborative for High Performance Schools). A ceremony was held at the school on June 24 attended by school administrators, students and state and town officials. The program was distributed with covers made from students’ artwork.
LPA is keenly interested in the preservation of the Worcester Memorial Auditorium and is involved in studying potential future uses. Constructed in 1933 as a monument to the veterans of World War I, the Worcester Memorial Auditorium is a building of enormous historical value to the City of Worcester.
The Town of Lancaster Selects LPA as OPM for renovations to the historic Prescott Building. The project will convert the interior of the building to house municipal offices, exhibition space and meeting rooms, as well as designated areas for the archival storage of town records and collections from the Lancaster Historical Commission.
The scope of work includes the addition of an accessible entrance, the installation of an elevator, the introduction of new infrastructure systems, structural repairs and upgrades, and all work necessary to bring the building up to current building code requirements.
On Monday morning, June 8, City and State officials, including Mayor Joe Petty, with the help of three kindergartners, broke ground during a ceremony to kick off the construction of a new building for the Nelson Place Elementary School, which is located in Worcester, MA.
Key ingredients for a successful project
On May 28, the MSBA co-Sponsored this year’s annual seminar series titled the “Story of A Building”, which is conducted by Massachusetts Inspector General, Glenn A. Cunha. The seminar “Sherwood Middle School – A Model for Building Success” highlighted the new Sherwood Middle School building project, which was designed by LPA, and it showcased the highly successful delivery method utilized by the project team. The goal of the program is to promote a system of best practices for future public building projects.
Long-time school superintendent Ralph Hicks is retiring. LPA has worked with Ralph on many school projects including Knox Trail Jr. High School and Wire Village School in Spencer, East Brookfield Elementary School, and the recently completed J.R. Briggs Elementary School in Ashburnham. We appreciate Ralph’s leadership during the design and construction of these school projects. Best wishes to Ralph and his family.
See the Telegram & Gazette article on Ralph’s retirement.