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My Afternoon at the New Putnam High School

Standing midday on the sidewalk next to the front of the new school, I observe the dusty bustle of construction workers within the original school site. I walk along the fence around the corner and back toward the curved shape of the cafeteria’s architectural glass wall. I spot exterior sunshades that are used to control glare, reduce solar heat gain, and maximize natural light. In fact, the sun is high in the sky, so I head inside for some shade.

I make my way to Stair Six Atrium, where the amphitheater-style atmosphere is highlighted by a voluminous space full of natural daylight. The brightness brings attentions to the blue and gold of school banners over the gymnasium doors to my right and the interior glass wall to the cafeteria to my left. Wait. The stairs change color through imbedded LED tiles that flow through the color wheel effortlessly. Their changing mood drives me further back, out the service area, into an exterior courtyard inhabited by many of the school technical programs. I photograph the electrical, heating and ventilation, robotics, and automotive technology departments. Some are ready for their close-up and some are still being organized by the teaching staff.

The cafeteria is next on my list. I am greeted with smiles and enthusiastic greetings from teachers as I enter the grand dining hall. I am struck not by its size, nor its impressive full height windows that look out onto an exterior terrace, but by the juxtaposition of its glossy newness to the shattered remnants of the original Putnam High School still under demolition only yards away. Inside as I proceed to exit through a side door, I also take in the dentistry and early education spaces. Lastly, from the street the school’s exterior come across as youthful and dynamic. I particularly enjoy the distinctive use of materials and the ruby painted window casings. The sheer mass of the building was a terrific experience and learning that sustainable strategies drove much of its design makes it worth sharing with you. The Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical High School project team included Drummey Rosane Anderson Architects, Consigli Construction and Morganti Group, Inc.

The wave forms on Putnam's exterior remind me of the Connecticut River that runs through Springfield just blocks away.

The wave forms on Putnam's exterior remind me of the Connecticut River that runs through Springfield just blocks away.