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My Morning at the New Putnam High School

The detail of this luminescent pendant light is just a tiny fraction of the smart details found in the 308,000square foot Vocational Technical High School in Springfield, Massachusetts. The project team included Drummey Rosane Anderson Architects, Consigli Construction and The Morganti Group. Massachusetts’ high performance school standards were implemented in its environmentally sensitive design.

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After making my way through its large urban neighborhood the school’s colossal footprint commanded my attention. Its elongated form filled the length of the street to reaffirm regional scale and density. The entrance is punctuated by a second floor with double high glazing that in my mind’s eye evokes openness and transparency. Architectural glass is also used along the entire height of the building’s south side.

Once inside, I am greeted at the security desk with rich wood paneled backdrop and its friendly school plaque. This large hallway with soaring ceiling heights serve as interior streets and plazas and emphasize light and town square experience. The polished concrete floors of the corridor start out wide and expand steadily and follow the lands gentle decline. As I descend a few stairs and make my way past the offices, Cosmetology Salon and Culinary Arts Café, I am met by a dramatic atrium with two staircases and tiers of seating in their center. The window curtain wall on the second floor transitions from translucent to opaque glass. It illuminates the stair-style-auditorium from above and keeps the adjacent corridor screened.

Upstairs I am happy to find more corridors that shine with good proportions, plentiful daylight, and eclectically expressive materials. Observing the space from this vantage point allows me to see the joy and wonder of the many students and faculty as they walk past and admire their new home. I locate the library which is directly above the entry lobby; it makes use of the double height curtain wall and provides a well lit research and study space. Half the day has past and I head outside for some fresh air, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and a chilled crisp apple.