The physical plan comprised a building for academics and another for vocational courses, the two separated by a heavily trafficked roadway linked only by an overhead pedestrian bridge. This apartheid fractured the physical and social campuses, exacerbated the cultural split between academic and technical learning, and undermined any natural interaction among academic and technical students and faculty.
Comprehensive, Not Vocational
Quincy High School was failing.
It had a fractured, but arbitrary, separation of its vocational/technical and academic programs, creating two distinct and unequal social groups. It was thought of as a “trade” school, compared to the more college-preparatory North Quincy High School. It also had a combative relationship with its residential neighbors on one side and a struggling downtown on the other. Adjacent wetlands and a coastal flood plain complicated any architectural or urban design interventions.
The notion of the simple vocational/technical school has become increasingly anachronistic. Regardless of their anticipated career path, it is imperative for students to maintain a balance of social, academic, and vocational skills that will allow them to be meaningful contributors in the 21st century. The dramatically reprogrammed and redesigned Quincy High School achieves this goal via a combination of conceptually powerful “academies,” with a layout and design that not only supports the new educational mission, but is also a resource for the entire community.