Keeping in mind that I have never been very good at gambling, I am going to make a choice in what architectural firm should be chosen.
And I know that the school building committee members have their own ideas and priorities that the other firms may be better at doing.
But I’m looking at the appropriateness of this building to Newburyport. And also the enlightening factor of appearance, lighting, mood and space that a building can assist in providing a good ‘nest’ for healthy learning.
Whatever we do, we need to avoid the Ipswich Penitentiary. Perhaps it’s just fine inside but every time I drive by on Route 1A and stare at the Ipswich High School, I keep looking for the guard towers! What a depressing and formidable façade.
I suppose they had a town-grown ‘dark sider’ building committee, fascinated with all the internal, structural features and forgot about the impression this Attica Prison would have on the local community, the students and the teachers.
It is important for the citizens to feel that a school building so close to surrounding residential neighborhoods looks like it fits. Its height, landscaping, location, massing, parking and playgrounds should be a visual enhancement – not a looming fortress or a cold, contemporary office building. Let alone the razzing students will have to endure as they approach their educational ‘prison’.
Not that I have any right to be listened to other than being one tax-paying citizen, but I choose the proposed plans by Kaestle Boos Associates of Foxborough*. Not only does it look like in general concept a school that ‘fits’ Newburyport but the way it was set up looks ‘human’ and ‘familiar’ and ‘friendly’.
And this was the only firm that took seriously a school building that would fit seemlessly into the community and made sure the exterior matched the character of Newburyport.
Perhaps the other more sophisticated ‘dog & pony’ plans will win out – but what I’m concerned about are the children, city residents, abutter neighbors and attending seniors (at the senior center). I can see this layout working for Newburyport.
* I deliberately did not put a link to them because the design they presented was custom-made for Newburyport and what they have online would not reflect their intention. But to give every post reader an opportunity to research each firm’s abilities, here are the links: