The Conservatory Lab Charter School Environmental Graphics | Arrowstreet

The Conservatory Lab Charter School (CLCS) is a thriving hub of music and academic excellence located in the vibrant neighborhood of Dorchester in Boston. This tuition-free public charter school provides a dynamic and inspiring educational experience for students in grades K-8, offering a curriculum that blends rigorous academics with music education, inspired by El Sistema and Expeditionary Learning.

Rethinking The Future Awards 2023
First Award | Signages Design (Built)

Project Details
Project Name: Conservatory Lab Charter School Environmental Graphics
Category: Signage Design (Built)
Studio Name: Arrowstreet
Design Team: Arrowstreet Graphic Design
Area: 42,000 sf
Year: 2021
Location: Boston, MA
Consultants: Wall Graphic Fabrication/Installation: Design Communication, Ltd.
Photography Credits: ©2022 Ben Gancsos / Commodore Builders
Other Credits: Scope Graphic: Arrowstreet Graphic Design
The Conservatory Lab Charter School Environmental Graphics | Arrowstreet - Sheet2

©2022 Ben Gancsos / Commodore Builders

The school’s administrators wanted a warm and welcoming environment that would foster a sense of community and connection among students, faculty, staff, and visitors. With this in mind, the graphic design studio worked closely with the architectural team to create a range of interior and exterior identification signs, donor signs, and an expansive environmental graphics package.

At the heart of the environmental graphics is the main theme, “The Shape of Music,” which showcases the beauty of musical instruments and the ways in which music can be visually represented. The oversized musical instrument silhouettes, rendered in the school’s vibrant color palette, serve as focal points in key gathering areas throughout the building, and are paired with inspiring quotes from the program’s founder and other notable figures such as Bruno Mars. Additionally, to highlight the diverse range of subjects taught at the school beyond music, oversized instruments representing other areas of study are displayed on the walls leading to the corresponding classrooms. art and science rooms.

The Conservatory Lab Charter School Environmental Graphics | Arrowstreet - Sheet3

©2022 Ben Gancsos / Commodore Builders

The school’s motto, “We are crew, not passengers,” takes center stage in the main reception area, surrounded by a dramatic three-dimensional wall designed to capture the rhythm and movement of music. This installation not only provides a warm welcome to visitors, but was designed to showcase student artwork, reinforcing the school’s message and giving passing onlookers outside a glimpse into the school’s vibrant culture.

The wall outside the Main Ensemble Room is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the school’s students, featuring duotone images of students playing instruments in both practice and performance. And oversized sheet music featuring Handel’s “Water Music” adorns the exterior walls of the restrooms, providing a humorous discovery for the musically-savvy.

The Conservatory Lab Charter School Environmental Graphics | Arrowstreet - Sheet4

©2022 Ben Gancsos / Commodore Builders

Overall, the environmental graphics at CLCS bring the school’s mission and culture to life, creating a colorful and engaging environment that inspires students, faculty, and staff alike. As John Chistolini, COO of CLCS, puts it, “The reactions to the graphics have been overwhelmingly positive. They really put the finishing touches on the building and capture the essence of the school. Every day, as I walk past the graphics, I am struck by how reflective they are of who we are as a school community.”

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