Challenge Located north of Boston, North Andover is a prosperous town whose appeal and population has steadily grown over the last four decades. When the existing 1970s open-plan high school could no longer accommodate the town's needs, rather than embark on a costly renovation, the municipality voted a resounding 'yes' to constructing a new high school. The challenge was to create a multiuse building that would serve the expanded educational and extracurricular needs of 1,500 students in grades 9 through 12, with activity spaces that could be utilized after hours by the community.
Architectural and Lighting Solution The resulting 292,000-square-foot, $55 million high school emulates the community it serves in its youthful, spirited, and sophisticated aesthetic. Red brick covers the school's gently curved façade, punctuated with bands of large windows, subtle references to the warehouse and manufacturing buildings in the nearby towns of Haverhill and Lawrence. At night, the illuminated building and its central glass-and-brick-enclosed flagpole-topped tower is a readily identifiable landmark. The school is organized into two wings: an educational side, housing classrooms and offices; and a community area, containing the auditorium, cafeteria, and field house.
Lighting solutions had to comply with the 2001 energy conservation requirements of the Massachusetts State Building Code, which mandates a lighting power density of 1.5W per square foot for school and university buildings. 'We limited the number of lamp types, not the fixtures, used in the school for ease of maintenance and lower operating expenses,' says architect Kenneth DiNisco, who along with lighting designer Paul Zaferiou of Lam Partners, was responsible for the building's architectural and lighting design. The final overall energy use measurement was tallied at 1.2W per square foot.
The interior-organizing element of the project is 'Main Street,' a double-height space measuring 36 feet at the highest point and 30 feet at the clerestory windows on each side, which introduce daylight into the space. 'It's a metaphor of the school as a community,' says Zaferiou. This intersection and social node is marked by geometric patterns found in the terrazzo flooring, and the colored tiled walls that highlight important communal spaces such as the cafeteria. Column-mounted exterior-grade decorative lanterns with 42W compact fluorescent lamps create a pedestrian scale and visual rhythm.
Throughout the project, emphasis is placed on maximizing visual comfort and responding to specific program requirements. In the cafeteria, indirect fluorescent coves and pendant uplights become spatial organizers: uplights over the food service area and for general dining, pendant uplights with 40W compact fluorescent lamps for ambient light, and compact 32W fluorescent downlights to provide sparkle on table surfaces. Layers of light also characterize the science labs. Three rows of indirect pendant fixtures cast a comfortable glare-free light level of 40 footcandles on the desks. Over the lab benches, 2-foot-square low-brightness parabolic downlights bring the light level up to the 80 to 90 footcandles needed for lab work.
Lighting for the auditorium is integrated into the room's dramatic architecture and handsome materials and finishes. 'This is a flexible multiuse theatrical facility for both the school and the community,' Zaferiou notes. The panelized ceiling system conceals catwalks equipped with an array of stage lights plus supplemental 'house' downlights. For general illumination, 250W and 100W PAR38 dimmable halogen downlights were installed above the wood slats. Dimmable 32W fluorescent strips behind vertical fins on the sidewalls provide a dramatic illuminated frame for the space. Recessed linear fluorescent wallwashers enliven the back wall.
After more than a decade of planning, the new North Andover High School's diverse user groups take full advantage of the facility. 'The design is more collegiate than high school; it treats the students as adults, and they respond to it,' says DiNisco. vilma barr