View of multi-story dining commons
View of skylight in multi-story dining commons

Billerica Memorial High School

Billerica, Massachusetts
A Renewed Identity

When the doors of Billerica Memorial High School opened on the first day of the new school year, a sense of pride permeated the halls—a palpable sense of gratitude for this physical expression of the town’s contemporary identity.

It’s rare that a single building has the power to shift the perception of an entire community—but that was exactly our opportunity in designing the new BMHS. Billerica had quietly reinvented itself in recent years, excelling in business, robotics, drama, and athletics, so we seized the chance to design a flexible, forward-looking educational environment that matched their myriad achievements. We partnered with students, staff, and community members to ensure that the town’s largest civic building embodied its aspirational commitment to education while respecting its historic civic legacy. It’s a concept we’ve called reflection with direction—honoring the past, aiming for the future—and it’s woven throughout the fabric of the new building’s architecture, detailing, and branding. The school demonstrates how simplicity gives rise to depth, and how we, collectively, can be re-made.

Exterior view of Billerica Memorial High School
What it is
A high school based on reflection with direction: honoring the past while aiming for the future.
Brick detail
Corbeled brick on the south facade takes measure of the day’s light, amplifying shadows and quietly functioning as a masonry sun dial, tracking the path of the sun.
Dress
The school’s neoclassical civic neighbors and late-1800s industrial context informed a design that connects distinct elements to speak a humble material language.

Simple, honest materials are synthesized in inventive, three-dimensional compositions. This language stands as a metaphor for the mission of the “maker” classroom, a part of the school’s guiding curriculum.

Exterior of Billerica Memorial High School
Repetitive brick detailing
The building’s elongated brick façade is organized by a repetitive frame expression. Brick is used within this frame as a wall material containing windows of varying dimension and function by stepping, corbelling, and coursing to animate the façade.
View of multi-story dining commons
Timber takes new meaning through carbon-conscious detailing; The embodied carbon in the FSC Certified spruce timber structure offsets the equivalent of a typical school bus traveling over 460,000 miles.
View of corridor with
Signature
Billerica’s new brand and visual identity are marked by “Reflection with Direction: Honoring the Past, Aiming for the Future.”

Founded on the town’s culture of humble pride, our design of the full suite of logos, colors, fonts, and graphics empowers the town to confidently represent itself in any setting.

View of gymnasium with upper level running track
Student walking down a flight of stairs
Thought
Classroom wings support department-based teaching now, but encourage transition to interdisciplinary modalities in the future.

By colocating labs and universal classrooms around open flexible spaces, instructors in different departments are empowered to collaborate in small project-focused “town centers.”

Sight
Inhabiting the prosaic and poetic, the entire interior uses daylight to capture the rhythms of academic time as the sun pushes shadow through the building.

Acoustic, life safety and flexibility in the student commons necessitated a creatively integrated daylighting solution. South facing skylight monitors pour light downwards,
concealing a carefully integrated exhaust system that removes smoke in an emergency. All achieved while acoustically dampening ambient noise from the multi-story space below.

View of interior staircases
"The new Billerica Memorial High School will stand as an extraordinary vessel of learning for many future generations. Anyone who walks through this building will know that the people and the educators in this town place a high value on a first-rate education for their children."

John Curran, Billerica Town Manager

In Their Own Words
Hear from students, staff, and designers about what this project means to them—and how it will shape the future of Billerica.

Project Team

People
Brooke Trivas
People
Patrick Cunningham
People
Robert Brown
People
Keith Curtis