The United Teen Equality Center, Lowell, MA, United States
CBT Architects

The United Teen Equality Center’s new home in Lowell, MA, an addition to and renovation of an 1839 meeting house, received its official LEED Platinum certification, making it the oldest building in the world to receive such recognition. The design team worked closely throughout the programming and design process with the leadership and teen members of this impressive non-profit group, that strives to ignite and nurture the ambition of Lowell's most disconnected young people to trade violence and poverty for social and economic success.

The design of the new community center includes the renovation to the existing 1839 meeting house as well as a 7,900 sq ft addition resulting in 20,000 sq ft of space. Located in the downtown area of Lowell, MA, the design team preserved and reused the existing 1839 meeting house by repurposing existing spaces with minimal alternative materials and new construction, while preserving the original building materials and finishes. A key feature includes the utilization of the building’s existing belfry which allows for a natural ventilation system that requires no mechanical cooling of occupied spaces.

The conversion of the former meeting house sanctuary into a multipurpose area provides UTEC with a versatile space that functions as the centre’s gymnasium, performance space, and banquet room, while the lower level offers informal gathering, meeting and activity areas. Linking the addition and meeting house, is a courtyard with a multi-story stairwell that houses a relaxed lounge and exhibition space as well a fitness center, classroom space, computer room, video production suite, sound recording lab, dance studio, mediation room, and café/kitchen.

An electric car charging station, 147 rooftop solar panels, a passive cooling system, and soy-based insulation are a few of the highly sustainable design elements that contribute to the building’s Platinum status.

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