Construction has begun on Perkins+Will’s visionary design for the Billerica (Mass.) Memorial High School (BMHS), a 325,000-square-foot, $176 million facility scheduled to open in the fall of 2019. The school, designed to accommodate more than 1,610 students from grades 8 through 12, as well as a 200-student Pre-K program, will look and operate quite differently from a traditional high school.
Instead of classrooms with student desks facing an instructor and a blackboard, the school is designed to emulate modern workplaces, and to evolve with new flexible ways of teaching and learning such as student-centered classrooms. BMHS’ design will bring hands-on experience into the general academic environment, including “makerspaces,” robotics rooms, ‘FAB LABs’ — for material fabrication — and engineering classrooms. Additionally, the school is designed for students to work on individual or creative projects across disciplines in a collaborative environment including art, graphic design, computer labs and innovation spaces. Individual spaces can easily be repurposed, and classrooms and spaces support larger scale reconfiguration to allow for future teaching pedagogies.
“Our design reflects the capacity to adapt because change is happening more quickly and what students learn and how they do it is evolving, requiring more cross-disciplinary thinking,” says Perkins+Will principal Brooke Trivas. “In fact, that is how we work as a design firm and how we approached this project. Our experts on labs, sports, health care, interior design, office and sustainability all collaborated to bring the newest research and thinking to creating Billerica Memorial High School.”
Perkins+Will designed BMHS in partnership with the town of Billerica, LeftField (OPM) and Shawmut Construction. Other recent education projects include William Jones College Preparatory High School, Edina High School + Valley View Middle School, Pitt River Middle School, Brimmer and May School and Phillips Andover Academy.