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Saugus Middle High School

Saugus School Design Inspired By American Iron And Steel Industry

The residents of Saugus, MA celebrate their history and keep it alive in the industrial and colonial architecture that can be seen throughout town. The new Saugus Middle High School is an extension of this, reflecting the town’s history steeped in iron works, ice and lobstering, while embracing a STEAM-driven education focus. A combination of Dri-Design aluminum panels—flat, Tapered Series and Stenciled Graphic panels—were used at the entrance of the school to express this goal.

“Metal was the natural choice given the inspiration of the historic Saugus Iron Works. A National Historic Site just outside of Boston, the Saugus Iron Works is considered the birthplace of the American iron and steel industry and served as design inspiration for the new facility,” says Melissa Greene, a senior associate at HMFH Architects in Cambridge, MA, and a project architect on the Saugus project. “The Tapered Series allowed for the creation of a basket-weave look, which really animated those forms on the building and articulated them in a more human-scaled way. Dri-Design also offered the ability to incorporate custom graphics and colors that were important to the success of the design.”

Sunrise Erectors Inc., Canton, MA, installed Tapered Series Panels (11,891 square feet), Flat Panels (3,807 square feet) and Stenciled Graphic panels (2,878 square feet). The panels are 0.080-inch painted aluminum in Somber Gray and DustBlue colors. The wall construction consisted of an air vapor barrier, horizontal continuous 4-inch deep Greengirt thermally broken furring, 4-inch Roxulsafe mineral wool insulation and the Dri-Design panels.

Duc Vo, LEED Green Associate, a project manager with Sunrise Erectors, says: “Dri-Design panels are installed sequentially, starting at the bottom from left to right, and anchored only at the head/top of the panel with overlapping panel returns that integrate with adjacent panels. We were able to gain efficiency in the installation process and wall assembly by engineering the furring spacing/locations to match all of the Dri-Design horizonal panel joints. This also meant we had to coordinate and layout all the furring locations before receiving any panels. The furring locations essentially became the panel layout for the project. By performing and coordinating this scope ahead of time with Suffolk [the general contractor], we were able to install the Dri-Design panels a lot quicker once we received the delivery because all the layout work had been completed.”

For this project, Sunrise Erectors field verified the completed elevations for the panel releases and also released panels for elevations that needed to be constructed. Coordination with the construction manager was required and very important to hold the dimensions on new elevations that were constructed after the panel release. By releasing the panels in this two-pronged approach, Sunrise Erectors could accommodate the material lead time and construction schedule.

This was the first time Sunrise Erectors installed Dri-Design panels. Since the 2020 project, the team has selected Dri-Design for other installs.

“Computer-automated fabrication of Dri-Design solid aluminum plate panels can achieve profiles that are difficult to create with aluminum composite metal material and the integrated joint and attachment system allow for less parts and pieces during installation,” Vo explains.

The 271,000-square-foot school is for students grades 6-12. The space has a 750-seat auditorium, cafeteria, gym and student cafe. The middle and high schools are separated by academic zones with shared common spaces. The students have much to explore with a shared maker space and tech shops for a woodshop, broadcast studio, coding and web/graphic design lab, as well as 3D design and computer-aided design labs.

Vo says: “The juxtaposition of the Dri-Design panels with the phenolic wood panels against the red brick really puts the icing on the cake for this project. The metal panels act as an accent piece for the building and draw people into the space. The profile of the panels and the repetition, although a simple layout, create a complex and dynamic aesthetic through a thoughtful and simple design. We love the look and the outcome and couldn’t be prouder to be involved with the project.”

About Dri-Design

DriDesign_logo_020511Dri-Design is a manufacturer of dry-joint rainscreen metal wall systems available in a wide range of styles and colors. In addition, the company offers graphic wall systems created though sophisticated custom perforating and via imaging technology. To learn more about the company's products, visit

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