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High School Campus Weaves in City’s Industrial Past

A Massachusetts district won a citation for campus planning.

The six schools at the high school campus are arranged like fingers protruding from a hand.

The high school campus in Lawrence (Mass.) Public Schools, which opened in 2007, has won a citation for campus planning from the Boston Society of Architects and the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects in part for the ways it represents the city of Lawrence’s industrial past.

The $110 million campus is comprised of six thematic schools—business management and finance; health and human services; humanities and leadership; international studies; math, science and technology; and performing and fine arts—as well as athletic fields, an arts center and a main administration building that includes a field house, cafeteria and library. Each school has 500 students, who take all of their classes in their respective school building. The other facilities are shared.

To the right of the auditorium is the performing and fine arts school. A section of the spine that connects the six schools is to the right of the flag pole.

With their red brick exteriors, the six individual schools serve as a reminder of Lawrence’s old mills, while an enclosed, curvilinear spine clad in zinc represents the Merrimack River, which flows through the city. Situated along the banks of the river, these mills helped to make Lawrence a world leader in textile production by the early twentieth century.

The spine joins the schools and enables easy access to shared facilities. Students and staff refer to this as “Main Street,” according to Eric Juli, the district’s director of secondary curriculum and a member of the campus leadership team.