Boston – The North Bennet Street School was founded in 1885 as a school for industrial crafts and has since then become world-renowned for its hands-on training in traditional programs such as carpentry, violin making, piano restoration, bookbinding, jewelry, and locksmithing.
Kennedy & Violich Architecture was selected to design a new home for NBSS in the historic North End, where the majority of its programs have remained since its beginnings, within a former City of Boston Police Station and Printing Plant. The combined 65,000sf renovation and addition now brings together all of its programs in a single facility with expansive floor plates and natural lighting.
The architectural concept was to create two rooms, one indoor and the other outside, each of which would offer the kind of social space that NBSS has been lacking due to its existing congested and antiquated teaching environment and the school’s multiple locations around the Boston area. The first, the indoor room, is strategically placed to connect the historic polices station and printing plant. KVA designed a new entry gallery and store, a two-story exhibit room that can be used for lectures and special events, and a light-filled monumental stair which acts as a crossroads to the school. The outdoor room is a transformed service yard which will be a working courtyard for full-scale mock-up construction projects and an outdoor terrace for community events. A façade made of recycled industrial pallets create the framework for working balconies that overlook the courtyard and create a theatrical presence below.
The project will be LEED certifiable under the City of Boston’s Green Building initiative and includes a 40KW array of photo-voltaic panels on the roof. The project is partially funded through the National Park Service’s Historic Tax Credit program.