Shawmut celebrated the opening of Billerica Memorial High School, a modern academic center designed to educate its students in an innovative, healthy, and flexible environment. In collaboration with the Massachusetts School Building Authority, the town of Billerica, design firm Perkins and Will, and project manager Leftfield, Shawmut delivered an impressive facility that will help Billerica become a top-tier destination for education in the Merrimack Valley.
The all-new, 325,000-square-foot, $176 million Billerica Memorial High School serves more than 1,600 students in grades 8 through 12 and houses a 200-student Pre-K program. Its campus includes a four-story academic wing consisting of agile classrooms, informal learning areas, STEAM spaces, and administration support services. The second wing houses athletic, public, and assembly areas — including a 700-seat auditorium, 17,000-square-foot gymnasium complete with an elevated walking track, and an open commons-style cafeteria, production studio, and black box theater.
“We’re proud to be part of such an important, collaborative project for the Billerica community,” said Kevin Sullivan, vice president at Shawmut. “As the academic sector continues to evolve and cater to the needs of today’s educators and students, it’s been an honor to lend our expertise in this space to help Billerica’s vision come to life and unveil a first-rate facility.”
The main academic building is organized around two main axes, with a centralized corridor designed to promote collaboration and interaction. Instead of classrooms with student desks facing an instructor and a blackboard, the configuration promotes flexible ways of teaching and learning, such as student-centered classrooms. Additionally, the school brings hands-on experience into the general academic environment with the addition of makerspaces, robotics rooms, material fabrication labs, and engineering classrooms. Collaborative spaces allow students to work on individual or creative projects across disciplines — including art, graphic design, and computer labs. Individual spaces can also be easily repurposed to support larger scale reconfiguration to allow for future teaching pedagogies. To enhance connectivity between the school’s indoor and outdoor areas, the building’s layout places life skills, culinary arts, and health and nutrition programs near exterior gardens and courtyards.
“We wanted to equip Billerica’s students, teachers, and administrators with a space that will support evolving educational models well into the future,” said Brooke Trivas, principal at Perkins and Will. “Flexible classrooms and interdisciplinary spaces allow students to develop skills like communication and collaboration, while providing teachers and administrators the freedom to grow and expand their teaching styles.”
While the school is now open, construction on additional site amenities remains in progress. A multi-sport practice field, quad-style civic green, bike and walking paths, and turf performance stadium complete with a 1,600-seat bleacher concourse and track complex will be completed by fall 2020. At that time, Billerica Memorial High School and its surrounding site will be a vibrant town center, offering ample spaces for the entire community to gather and connect.
“As a community, this is a space that we all should be proud of,” said Timothy Piwowar, Billerica Schools Superintendent. “We’ve equipped our students with a facility that will allow them to best prepare for their future, helping Billerica to become a top-tier destination for education in the Merrimack Valley.”
Shawmut’s work on Billerica Memorial High School represents the latest in the firm’s extensive academic portfolio, with recently completed projects at Arlington’s Gibbs School, City of Cranston’s Eden Park Elementary, and Belmont Day School’s Barn, along with current projects at town of Harvard’s Hildreth Elementary School, Choate Rosemary Hall, and Noble and Greenough School.