The International School of Boston, founded in 1962, is a private Pre-K-12 school that has experienced significant growth in the last 10 years, and is now seeking to consolidate their currently divided campuses of Arlington and Cambridge. In 2011, ISB engaged Maryann Thompson Architects to develop a Master Plan for their Cambridge campus. Shortly after the completion of the Master Plan in 2012 the school hired the team to design and implement two of the most notable projects in the master plan: the transformation of the unfinished spaces in the 4th floor attic of this 1851 building into an Upper School library and media center, new classrooms, offices and student lounge. These spaces were to become the signature space for the school, and give identity to their growing High School program.
The project reveals and celebrates the historic structures of timber trusses in the roof, as well as the original details of the historic exterior shell, in playful juxtaposition to new modern, dynamic forms of light-color wood casework, defining bright, calm and rich spaces filled with daylight, and subtle accents of color. The project was delivered on a very strict budget through the creative use of baltic birch plywood with exposed edges for the casework of the library.
The project creates a large reading room at the center of a beautiful 35 ft tall space, which in reference to traditional libraries, surrounds the reading room with book stacks that define the figure of the central space. The curved form of the bookshelves defines the reading room, but also creates interesting transparencies and views through, while allowing private spaces for individual study, and a large conference area.
Architect: Maryann Thompson Architects
Photographer: Chuck Choi