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City of Cambridge
King Open/Cambridge Street Upper Schools and Community Complex
Cambridge, MA

The King Open/Cambridge Street Upper Schools and Community Complex serves as a neighborhood anchor on Cambridge Street and reflects the City’s commitment to creating a sustainable and resilient community. The project carefully balances the sense of welcome to all while providing Cambridge’s youngest citizens a safe and inspiring learning environment.

The building’s varied program makes it many things to many people – a school, daycare, public library, pools, school administration, and community center. By investing in a project that serves so broad a range of the community’s needs, it reflects respect for equity, diversity, inclusion, and the natural environment. The branch library and pools, the most public elements of the project, are prominently placed to send a strong signal to all to engage in their community resource and claim it as their own.

The complex is set in a series of green and open spaces programmed with five playgrounds to accommodate all ages and abilities. The variety of spaces and ample seating allow multigenerational groups to enjoy the space together. One can play basketball, bocce, or enjoy a quiet afternoon in the urban oasis of the library reading garden.

The interiors are filled with daylight and have access to views. The school is designed to accommodate individual, small group and classroom learning. Ultimately, the building and site design make this a place people want to be.

The project sets a new standard for school design and high-performing buildings through the creation of a 21st century learning lab. The project is 100% electric resulting in both a carbon and emissions-free building. The Community Complex is the first Net Zero Emissions and first LEED v4 Platinum school in Massachusetts.

With Arrowstreet
2019 U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Best of Massachusetts Award
2020 Congress For New Urbanism Charter Award
Robert Benson Photography ©