Powderhouse Studios

Client: Powderhouse Studios
Location: Somerville, MA
Size: 18,800 SF

As part of the larger mixed-use Powder House development in Somerville’s Teele Square, studioMLA Architects designed a one-of-a-kind public high school, Powderhouse Studios, that would have occupied 18,800 SF of this complex.

Formerly the Powder House Community School, the decommissioned building underwent a major transformation to meet community goals and be a model for urban planning, smart growth, open space, and sustainability. In addition to the studioMLA-designed school, the development would have provided 28 market-rate units, 8 artist live-work units, 12 senior housing units, a flexible community hub with an outdoor amphitheater, commercial space, and a public park.

studioMLA worked closely with the founders and teachers of Powderhouse Studios to create a new model for the future of learning and project-based learning environments. Designed to encourage teenagers’ intellectual curiosity, the reimagined school—with its nontraditional curriculum—featured “cohort spaces” that resemble workshops, complete with flexible seating so students can work in groups or independently. Drop-down power sources can be moved and accessed throughout the room. Each cohort space would have its spillover room for robotics and larger projects, a kitchenette, and utility sinks. While the entire school was designed to be a versatile maker space, additional shared space would have contained a 3D printer, laser cutter, water jet cutter, shop saws, and fabrication tools. Unfortunately, this project never entered construction.


They Had a Bold Idea for a New School