FALL RIVER, Mass. — Scholars of lore have been searching for the Lost Island of Atlantis forever. But it turns out all they had to do to find an academic utopia with a water feature is visit the Atlantis Charter School in Massachusetts. Founded in 1995 in Fall River, Atlantis was one of the first charter schools in the state. The school serves nearly 1,400 K-12 students and it just opened its new campus this February 2018 — both ahead of schedule and under budget.
The $35 million campus situated along South Watuppa Pond was designed by Studio G Architects, a Jamaica Plain, Mass.-based, 16-person firm that is a certified woman-owned business (WBE). The staff is comprised of multi-racial and multi-ethnic, LGBTQ-friendly professionals — half of whom are women. All Studio G Architects are LEED-accredited professionals. The builder was Agostini Bacon Construction Companies, a third-generation, family-operated, Rhode Island-based company.
The 96,000-square-foot waterfront facility has three wings that enclose around a landscaped courtyard. Two of the wings — dubbed The Lower School and the Upper School — serve grades K-6 and grades 7-12 respectively. A gymnasium and a regulation-sized track and field are shared by all students.
“Studio G Architects and Agostini Bacon Construction Companies helped to make our vision for a new school a reality,” said Robert Beatty, executive director of Atlantis Charter School, in a statement. “After years of financial planning, we were able to finance construction of this new building. Studio G and Agostini/Bacon Construction stretched an already limited budget to create a beautiful learning environment for even less than we anticipated. The new school gives our students the educational and recreational space they deserve, and it will serve them for years to come.”
Kathy Labouliere, project manager for Agostini Bacon Construction Companies, attributed the project’s success to teamwork among all the stakeholders. “In my experience, the key to a very successful project is working together as a team. All the players need to work together to achieve a successful project, something Agostini/Bacon Construction promotes. As you can see we were able to accomplish that here for the students at the Atlantis Charter School by finishing the classroom wings a month early,” she said in a statement.
Hallmarks of the new campus are promoting a healthy learning environment and sustainability. Fresh air comes into the classroom courtesy of an air displacement system, and natural light shares window space with views of water and nature. Likewise, low-VOC products have been used throughout the building; ditto low-energy light and high-efficiency water fixtures. Radiant panels provide efficient and cost-effective heating to the structure.
“Studio G is inspired to work on school projects that enhance students’ growth and success. Flexible spaces that have fresh air, abundant light, and views to landscape all contribute to successful learning environments,” said Robin Greenberg, project manager for Studio G Architects, in a statement.
Aesthetically, the exterior of the project endeavors to marry three temporal states simultaneously — the past, present and future. To wit, the grey ground-face concrete masonry of the facades is meant to evoke the visual appearance of “geological strata.” Native New England plants surround the new school building, as do boulders that have strategically arranged throughout the landscaping to provide sitting and congregating areas.