Freshman building at 22 Tappan built with community in mind


Contributed by William Rawn Associates, Architects Inc

The new freshman building at 22 Tappan was designed and constructed over the past few years and finally opened this January.

After around three years of waiting, the new freshman building at 22 Tappan is finally open. Sunlight beams through the long-awaited doors. Students and teachers mingle in the vast open spaces. However, it took months of coordination and planning to create this result.

The freshman building was part of the Brookline High School expansion project, which began on June 10, 2019. It was constructed by William Rawn Associates, Architects Inc. and Skanska USA Building. William Rawn Associates Principal Sam Lasky and about 14 other members from the firm planned with Skanska for a year before they started construction.

As soon as the project was announced, Project Architect Andy Jonic and the others set out to design the building.

“In the beginning, there are no floor plans. There are just ideas, and what we like to do is meet with as many people as possible at the beginning of the project to listen,” Jonic said. “All of that information from the student body, from faculty, from the administration all goes into the design.”

Jonic said the faculty and students’ interactions with the other high school buildings also impacted the design of the new building.

“These buildings are used after hours for the community, for adult education and for other events, so it made sense to put those public spaces at the forefront. So after hours, if someone wants to give a presentation in the cafeteria, they can do that,” Jonic said. “That was how the project came together.”

One of the major challenges encountered in this project was constructing the building over the MBTA tracks, according to Skanska’s Project Manager Connor Hennessy.

“Anytime you’re working near the MBTA tracks, there’s a lot of extra precautions you have to take,” Hennessy said. “We worked with the MBTA several times to ensure that there were special outages for a week at a time where we could do all the work in that area.”

Freshman William Omoregie said the train station being attached to the new building is very useful for some students.

“It is a whole different vibe because I’ve never seen a school like that before around here where they actually have a train station right there near the building,” Omoregie said. “You won’t have to run to a train station, you can just walk right there and be ready for the train to come.”


English teacher Evan Mousseau said unlike in OLS, where similar class subjects might be separated down a single narrow hallway, the new layout places department subjects within proximity, and the more spacious hallways and classrooms provide a more cooperative space than OLS.

“I feel like we are, as teachers, closer together,” Mousseau said. “There are five different English classes within a few steps of each other, so the layout is really convenient for teachers to check in with each other to collaborate.”

Jonic said the architects assigned colors to each academic subject when laying out the building. The architects aimed to create a cohesiveness between the colors, similar to an artist stitching a quilt together. They called this the “interdistrict interdisciplinary quilt.”

“We made a distinctive color in each classroom and then that translated to the floors. The corridors are really trying to provide an identity for each floor,” Jonic said.

Omoregie said the colors and entrance make him feel welcomed, and like he’s entering into a community-focused building.

“Though we have faced a little bit of racial issues, I see BHS as a very open community. By letting in every color, it makes me feel like I’m entering a place I’m accepted in,” Omoregie said. “You can see the office, you can see the library up there and you can see a bunch of people socializing. You can really get the feeling of friendship in the air.”

Like many students, Omoregie loves the big pane windows and finds the lighting to be revitalizing.

“You can get that view of everything around you much better. And plus with all these windows and the sun coming down on you, you can get that relaxing ray coming down while you’re doing your work for a class,” Omoregie said. “When I get those rays, I’m ready for the whole day that is to come.”

After years of work, the architects and construction team are proud to provide a space for students to learn.

“It’s satisfying being able to sit in there after it’s been completed. We see the students and all that activity there; that’s why we do this. To make these places for people, to make them light-filled and happy and active,” Jonic said. “I’d reiterate how much of a team effort it was to build the building. It takes the entire community.”