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image Project: North Shore Community College

North Shore Community College

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Architect Narrative

The new academic building provides an inviting environment for one of Massachusetts’s leading community colleges. Three stories and 106,150 square feet, this building houses a fully-equipped learning resource center with library and media areas, a full-service cafeteria, administrative offices, faculty and staff conference rooms, teaching facilities, computer labs and several student activity and common areas. A fully integrated information technology system provides computer linkages in all classrooms and specialized computer laboratories for specific programs. Flexibility was thoughtfully built in for future expansion needs and adaptation to changing technologies.

Primary planning objectives for the new facility included the encouragement of social interaction among the students, faculty and administration. The new academic building was conceived as a separate, but connected facility. Sited so the building’s rear faces the existing campus, the main fa├žade is almost entirely glazed to provide an open and inviting presence. By providing the additional space required for all departments and integrating the new program areas, the building becomes a more welcoming statement for the campus and fosters frequent, diverting interaction among the academic and student community.

In order to integrate the new areas in a way that encouraged exchanges between the outside and the normal experience of using the building, a central glass-enclosed stair connects all three floors of the building. Varied colored wall surfaces, visible through the glazed high-efficiency curtain wall, create a warmth and visual attraction for people arriving on the campus, and provides easy orientation to those inside. Two-story informal gathering spaces along the corridor provide wonderful opportunities to let natural light into the building and encourage views to the natural wooded landscape, and highlight the interior activity from outside. The main circulation along the glazed curtain wall links all of the spaces with natural lighting and diverse lounge and sitting areas to facilitate the objective of frequent and casual encounters.

The attractive glass and masonry building answers the needs of this vibrant, rapidly growing campus. The original existing building, a converted, high-bay electronics warehouse had blank exterior walls and was inwardly oriented. Now, the new facility provides a welcoming front door to the community college campus.

Educator Narrative

The community college’s campus has been transformed with the completion and occupancy of its new academic building, whose geometric shape provides an open, welcoming gesture to students, faculty and visitors. The attractive glass-and-masonry building answers the needs of a vibrant, rapidly growing campus while providing an expanded learning resource center, 27 classrooms, 10 computer labs, student support centers (tutoring, testing, and services), student life areas, and several informal gathering spaces.

With two major faces, a wall of glass announces the front of the building, reflecting the college’s confident statement of connection to community. At the junction of two major arteries, the building’s inviting, yet bold appearance projects a new college image, linked to regional economic development. The rear of the building faces existing facilities and provides a warmer embrace of programs and staff in health and agricultural program sites.

Built with a central glass-enclosed stair connecting all three floors, the building has encouraged interaction among students and faculty. Open area usage ranges from computer and meeting space to student services programming and event space. Natural light abounds and contributes daily to the excitement of campus life.

With multiple uses, classrooms, conference rooms, and offices have become much sought after by both internal and external groups. With careful planning and complementary facilities, the college has become the nucleus of a regional arena. The college’s mission — to be “a regional leader for social and economic change” — is evident in its new building. The structure itself has become a catalyst for growth and development.

Landscaping further reflects a friendly, caring community of learners — mature outdoor plantings were preserved, pedestrian paths provide both easy access and companionable walkways, and comfortable outdoor seating is plentiful.

With cohorts of non-traditional learners, first-generation college students, and adults seeking re-training, community colleges like ours are all about options — the Danvers academic building offers the environment needed to personalize learning to individual needs. Small classrooms, centralized faculty offices, student support services, and a user-friendly library all contribute to student success.

Measured by two semesters of residence, enrollments at the Danvers campus have grown dramatically. Student participation in campus activities has increased. The faculty has responded with a host of program-related events staged in new cafeteria and conference spaces. Fund-raising has expanded, cultivating both new and former donors.

With self-assurance and character, the new campus building appropriately and fittingly accords the college the respect it earns as the “community’s college.”

Recognized Value Award 2004



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