Project Detail

Lawrence High School

New Grade 9–12 Facility | Lawrence, Massachusetts

Lawrence High School is designed to align with the City of Lawrence's vision of smaller learning communities where students are able to achieve academic success, receive the support necessary to succeed, demonstrate responsibility, and exhibit pride in their achievements. The design has allowed for the development of six stand-alone Academies, each accommodating approximately 500 students, within the confines of the overall educational complex. These smaller learning communities allow for personalization for students so that no student can slip through the cracks or get lost in the crowd. The six Academies span across the campus evenly, providing easy access to each other and to common spaces including cafeteria, media center, central administration building, field house, and performing arts center.

Building Organization 

The overall design is a campus-like complex composed of multiple building forms flanking a curvilinear spine that runs north to south. The six Academies are housed in separate four-story wings, radiating outward along the east side of the spine, providing all classrooms with an abundance of natural light and creating outdoor courtyards between each wing. Flanking the west side of the spine are two public wings, oriented toward the city fabric and designed for extensive community use. The circulation spine spans North Parish Road on the second level, resolving a major site constraint, while connecting the Academies with all major resources. 

Historical Context 

In plan, massing, and materials, the design references Lawrence’s rich textile manufacturing heritage. By the early twentieth century, Lawrence had become a world leader in the production of woolen textiles by harnessing the power of the Merrimack River via a system of underground water raceways and canals. The building plan’s curvilinear spine incorporates the canal metaphor, and the Academy wings are conceived as simple mill buildings. The spine is composed of polished zinc panels that create the illusion of water in motion, contrasting with the Academies face brick and block cladding, reminiscent of the old mills.

Honors and Awards

AASA Architectural Award Honorable Mention Citation (2009)
 Learning by Design Awards of Excellence Outstanding Project (2009)
Boston Society of Architects Design Awards Citation for Campus Planning (2009)
Time Span 1999–2005
Type New Grade 9–12 Facility
Client Lawrence Public Schools
Size 565,000 square feet
Cost $81.8 million
Design Team Jorge Cruz, Project Manager; Bill Beatrice, Project Architect; Kent Kovacs, Project Designer
Consultants Beta Engineering (Civil Engineering); Bala Consulting Engineers (MEP Engineering); Boston Building Consultants (Structural Engineering); WDA Design Group (Landscape Architecture); Hanscomb Consulting (Cost Estimating)
General Contractor Fontaine Brothers
Photographer Robert Benson

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