BELMONT, Mass.—In the future, students at Belmont High School—a public school in a suburb west of Boston—may learn in a progressive environment that takes its design cues from forward thinking industries.
Open areas for collaboration, flexible spaces to meet the needs of changing curricula, mobile workstations for students and teachers—workplace design elements often embraced by innovative tech companies and creative agencies like Google and IDEO—are among a host of options that a team of architects, designers, project managers, and community leaders are exploring as they collaborate on a plan to improve the school.
That team, led by global architecture and design firm Perkins+Will, project managers Daedalus Projects, Inc., and the Belmont High School Building Committee (a 15-member group of local residents appointed by the Town of Belmont), is charged with envisioning possible scenarios for a new educational program for the school.
The goal is to reach consensus on an academic model that is forward-looking and flexible enough to support continued growth in student enrollment and evolving pedagogical needs. The team will explore research-informed design options for scenarios that include renovations to the existing building, renovation/ additions to the existing building, and construction of a new school.
“Our goal is to create a learning environment at Belmont High School that builds upon the school’s legacy of academic excellence while ‘future-proofing’ it for a rapidly changing educational landscape,” says Brooke Trivas, principal and project lead at Perkins+Will. “Every student who studies at Belmont will graduate equipped with the skills necessary for success in both higher education and the modern-day workforce: communication skills, strategic and critical thinking, teamwork and collaboration, information synthesis, and problem-solving.”
The design of the school, Trivas emphasizes, will be instrumental in enabling students to develop and hone those skills, which are essential for success in today’s global economy.
“One of the main reasons Perkins+Will was selected to lead the design of this important project is their multi-disciplinary expertise,” says Bill Lovallo, Chair of the Belmont High School Building Committee. “Their design approach combines best practices in K-12 education, higher education, workplace, hospitality, healthcare, science and research labs, sports and recreational facilities, and cultural institutions, among others—and this convergence of disciplines is critical for preparing today’s students for thriving college and professional careers.”
Perkins+Will, Daedalus Projects, Inc., and the Belmont High School Building Committee will hold their next public meeting—called a “visioning session”— shortly after school returns to session in September, with a time and place to be announced. The community engagement sessions are an opportunity to provide updates and solicit input.
Perkins+Will’s recent PK-12 education design projects in Massachusetts include Billerica Memorial High School, Brimmer and May School in Chestnut Hill, and Phillips Academy in Andover. Perkins+Will has also designed workplaces for both Google and IDEO in the recent past.