Plans are moving ahead on the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence’s new teen center, with construction slated to begin next month.
The Lawrence-based TreanorHL architecture firm filed a site plan application for the 18,000-square-foot facility earlier this month. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 10 for the teen center, which will be connected to the school district’s Lawrence College and Career Center at 2910 Haskell Ave.
Colby Wilson, executive director of the Lawrence Boys & Girls Club, said the project will provide much-needed summer and after-school programming for Lawrence middle and high school students. The district’s current teen center, located inside the club’s main offices at 1520 Haskell Ave., has the capacity to serve just 70 students a day — compared with the 1,500 students served every day at the club's sites at Lawrence’s elementary schools.
“It was a just a really good partnership, and it’s working in the elementary schools where we use the space and the classrooms, the gyms and the cafeterias, after school, and coordinate ways to make that work in the schools,” Wilson said. “So, this is kind of a continuation of that. We’re just making it so that middle school and high school kids can continue with the Boys & Girls Club.”
Design plans for the $4.25 million center include a teaching kitchen, audio and video production rooms, a makerspace, a gymnasium and a performing arts area. The connection to the College and Career Center, in turn, will allow Boys & Girls Club teens access to the robotics and science lab, 3-D printing and other work spaces at the school district’s facility.
Through the partnership, both buildings will be in use during the school year and over the summer. Wilson said the new facility will allow the Boys & Girls Club to serve five times as many students, while also providing educational opportunities for kids interested in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) through the College and Career Center.
“So, getting kids at a young age excited about those careers, excited about those pathways — I think it’s going to be a game changer as far as graduation rates,” Wilson said.
The Boys & Girls Club has raised the majority of the $4.25 million budgeted for the center, with about $200,000 left to go. Construction will move ahead soon after next month’s groundbreaking ceremony, with the center set to open in August 2018.