Sited at the threshold of Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood and along a major highway, the new Josiah Quincy Upper School will serve 650 middle and high school students as a beacon of the City’s commitment to education. The exterior façade is clad in two tones of brick to differentiate academic and common spaces, while large public volumes including the auditorium and gymnasium are distinguished by their metal rainscreen façade. Expansive windows along the north and south façades are outlined in a palette of bold colors, creating a unique identity for the new school representative of its ties to the Chinatown neighborhood.
Fitting a robust educational program onto this small urban site was paramount in our planning. Equally important was weaving the school appropriately into the urban and neighborhood context, which required thoughtful consideration from streetscape to skyline.
The new Upper School will not only serve as a resource for its students, but for the surrounding community. Community-oriented public spaces such as the cafeteria, media center, gymnasium and auditorium are conveniently located on the first and second floors, allowing public access and establishing a division between shared spaces and the academic spaces on the floors above.
Transitional spaces throughout the school are marked by ‘portals’–dark tiled archways that bridge the gap between common and academic spaces and assist in wayfinding. The organizational strategy of the layout places all classrooms along the north and south façades to maximize views and daylighting in academic spaces, where it is most beneficial for students. Project areas and small group workrooms are located at the heart of each academic floor, offering students flexible spaces to study and collaborate.
Despite the constraints of its one-acre site, the new Josiah Quincy Upper School provides students with a connection to nature on its rooftop space and delivers optimal air quality through innovative ventilation systems. Overlooking the Boston skyline, the rooftop features two outdoor classroom spaces and a contemplative garden planted with meadow grasses.