To replace the overcrowded Wescott Junior High School, Westbrook decided to construct a new middle school and to incorporate a new community-performing arts center in the plan. Harvey was contracted to work with Harriman to plan and construct the new facility.
The 138,600 square foot school was designed and constructed into two distinct areas – a public and community-oriented space and a quieter student-oriented academic wing serving 600 students. The community wings include spaces such as the gymnasium, cafeteria, kitchen, administrative offices and the performing arts center. These community-use spaces were designed so that they could be closed off from the rest of the school and have its own distinct entrance and parking areas.
The three-story classroom wing was designed to drill the school down to smaller “schools within a school.” Each classroom wing houses a specific grade with support spaces such as resource rooms, common space, learning labs, composite rooms, faculty workrooms, team storage, student lockers and toilet facilities. The library is centrally located so all students have quick access to it. Additional core spaces and unified arts spaces are located on the first two floors to minimize vertical circulation. Art and music rooms are located in close proximity to the performing arts center to enhance interdisciplinary opportunities.
Although the project was not seeking LEED certification, designers did follow LEED guidelines resulting many high performance and energy-efficient features: classroom light fixtures have daylight harvesting dimming controls; use of variable speed drives on air handler fans; enthalpy-wheel heat recovery in the classrooms; CO2 monitoring; radiant floors in classrooms and office areas; use of highly efficient fluorescent lamps; use of two-inch rigid insulation; high roof R values; utilization of natural light; and building automation systems are a sampling of “green” initiatives which were integrated into the final construction.