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Cambridge’s King Open/Cambridge Street Upper School and Community Complex Wins 2022 People’s Choice Award for Most Beautiful Building in Metro Boston

King Open/Cambridge Street Upper Schools and Community Complex photo courtesy of Benson Photography.

In January 2023, Cambridge's King Open/Cambridge Street Upper School and Community Complex was awarded the 2022 Boston Society of Architect's (BSA) Harleston Parker Medal People's Choice Award for the most beautiful building in metro Boston.

Completed in August 2019, and designed by William Rawn Associates with Arrowstreet Inc., this project is the first Net Zero Emissions and first LEED V4 Platinum school in Massachusetts. The 273,000 square foot facility houses the King Open School (JK-5), Cambridge Street Upper School (Grades 6-8), Cambridge Public Schools Administration, King Open Preschool, King Open Extended Day, Community Schools, and Valente Branch Library.  Amenities and open spaces include Gold Star Pool, two gyms, a 380-seat auditorium, two basketball courts, bocce court, five playgrounds, outdoor splash pad, Valente Reading Garden, a Learning Courtyard/Outdoor Classroom, open green area, Cambridge Street Plaza, and a Blue Bikes station.

“We were very honored to receive this prestigious award,” said Owen O’Riordan, Deputy City Manager and Chief Operating Officer for the City of Cambridge. “This facility underwent an extensive community process as part of the City’s more than $549 million investment in three new school complexes. It also reflects our commitment to creating sustainable and resilient municipal buildings.”

The King Open/Cambridge Street Upper School and Community Complex, located at 850 Cambridge Street, sets a new standard for school design and high-performing buildings through the creation of a 21st century learning lab. By providing a highly efficient envelope, advanced building systems and a 190 geothermal well field, the complex boasts an Energy Use Intensity of 25. The 74,070 square foot photo-voltaic array on the roof achieves 60% on-site power generation with the balance provided by purchased green power. In addition, the project is 100% electric, resulting in both a carbon and emissions free building.

During the school day, both sides of the building are linked via glass connectors, one each for the upper and lower schools. After hours, the academic building is separate to reduce energy demand and the public wing becomes a community amenity.

Below are comments from the BSA jury panel about the King Open/Cambridge Street Upper School and Community Complex:

“The light-filled and wide-open spaces in this school/community complex are all about supporting the students and neighbors for whom the buildings are designed. Coupled with an educational program that meets the needs of a very broad range of students, the generosity of multi-purpose space is genius; well-scaled and articulated. An early example of a truly healthy building – with consciousness of safe materials, renewable energy, and net zero emissions – the complex is ahead of its time. Its clear parti and program organization allows for flawless operations and serves as a wonderful framework for young people to flourish with joy.

The jury commends the building’s net zero sustainable performance and commendable sustainability strategies, with features like ground-source heat pumps and PV arrays on the roof that set the standard for other schools.”

Below is a listing of awards the King Open/Cambridge Street Upper School and Community Complex has won through December 2022:

  1. 2022 National AIA COTE Top Ten Award
  2. 2022 National AIA Educational Facilities Design Excellence Award
  3. 2022 American School & University William W. Caudill Citation
  4. 2022 IFLA Green Library Award Finalist
  5. 2022 Learning by Design Magazine Educational Facilities Design Award Honorable Mention
  6. 2021 AIA/ALA Library Building Excellence Award (Valente Library)
  7. 2021 AIA New England Design Merit Award
  8. 2021 BSLA Design Merit Award
  9. 2021 Chicago Athenaeum Green Good Design Award for Green Architecture
  10. 2021 IIDA New England Humanity of Design Award
  11. 2021 Metropolis Planet Positive Northeast Region Education Award
  12. 2020 Architect's Newspaper AN 'Best Of' Design Green Building Award Honorable Mention
  13. 2020 Architect's Newspaper AN 'Best Of' Design Institutional Interior Award Honorable Mention
  14. 2020 Architect's Newspaper AN 'Best Of' Design Interior Lighting Award Editor's Picks
  15. 2020 BSA Design Excellence Honor Award
  16. 2020 BSA Sustainable Design Honor Award
  17. 2020 Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Award
  18. 2020 Congress for New Urbanism Charter Award for Block, Building, and Street
  19. 2020 Engineering News Record New England Project of the Year
  20. 2020 Engineering News Record New England Best K-12 Education Project
  21. 2020 IES Boston Section Illumination Merit Award for Energy and Environmental Design
  22. 2019 USGBC Massachusetts Green Building of the Year

Photo: Cambridge Street Upper School and Community Complex by Robert Benson Photography.

Page was posted on 1/31/2023 1:45 PM
Page was last modified on 2/2/2023 8:46 AM
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