SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

October 18, 2013

Essex Tech takes shape

Huge new building rising in Danvers will have 'green' credentials

DANVERS — The main building of the new, $133-million Essex Technical High School measures three football fields in length.

Clad in laminated wood veneer panels, it has the scale of an airport terminal.

But while the building is large, its architect says, it’s really four schools, or academies, in one.

“You really get a small-school feel,” said Dawn Guarriello, an architect with Design Partnership of Cambridge. The regional agricultural and technical school is presently under construction along Route 62 on the Essex Agricultural School campus.

Guarriello designed the massive school, and she seems to knows every square inch of it.

When it’s done, the architect said, each of the four academy buildings will have its own classrooms, labs, dining halls and administrative offices designed to meet the needs of students in each of the school’s 24 career areas. Though there will be 300 or so students in each of the academies, the building is designed “to make them feel like they are in a small school rather than a 1,440-student school,” she said.

For those who have a student in middle school interested in attending Essex Tech, an open house is scheduled for tomorrow from 9 a.m. to noon on the campus at 562 Maple St. There will be presentations about the new spaces, but no tours.

Project officials gave a sneak peek at the ongoing work yesterday, however. Construction is ongoing, with up to 350 workers on the site each week, said project executive David Morrow of Gilbane Building Co. of Boston.

The school is designed so that two academies branch out from each side of the central core. This central area includes the main entrance and an upper floor media center/library, which contains a distinctive, soaring glass wall.

Just off the main lobby will be the school’s restaurant, which will be open to the public. This circular-shaped restaurant sits above the main cafeteria, which is visible below. The restaurant appears to be suspended above the cafeteria, and it’s accessible by footbridges.

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