A ceramic fritted glass canopy covers the Great Hall, washing the interiors with filtered light and celebrating activities throughout the day and evening.
Each floor is organized by a series of distinct neighborhoods, which include generous meeting and study spaces.
The Upper School science classrooms feature a transparent fume hood for demonstration purposes and flexibility in teaching styles.
Middle School Complex, Hathaway Brown School
Shaker Heights, Ohio
Originally chartered in 1876, Hathaway Brown is Ohio’s oldest college preparatory school for girls. When the campus was built, the graceful older buildings were planned with generous windows, filling the interior corridors and rooms with precious natural light. Although the buildings were beautifully crafted, they lacked public spaces for gathering and were characterized by an extensive amount of corridor space.
As the Middle and Upper Schools each expanded, their coexistence in an historic Walker and Weeks building began to compromise programmatic offerings. The solution features a distinct new home for the Middle School, organized by a covered indoor courtyard. By creating an L-shaped 61,000-square-foot addition to the original building with a central enclosed Great Hall, the primary circulation becomes an engaging experience of community. The Great Hall connects the historic buildings of the campus with a new heart of circulation across multiple levels.
Locating the “L” of the new wings in the northwest corner of the campus and establishing a new entry axis from the north reorients the entire campus circulation. A new entry drive focuses on the main facade of the original building. The entry sequence has been streamlined, with parking distributed to the sides of the building and a new drop-off circle to organize the entries of the Upper School, Middle School and gymnasium.
The main tenants in the new wing are the fifth through eighth grades, conceived as “neighborhoods” on levels two and three. The neighborhood is a central building block of the Middle School experience and conceived as an extension of the classroom environment, with ample breakout space, lockers, and tables for collaborative group work. Two distinct neighborhood areas are located on each of the middle levels, supported by a common room for special curricular projects. Middle School classrooms feature both carpeted areas and tiled flooring with moveable desks and soft furniture to accommodate hands-on learning projects of this age group. The splitting of the Middle School on two levels and the pairing of grades on each floor creates an intentional home base and identity for each grade.
This reimagining of the Middle School identity allowed for expansion of the Upper School in place, as well as the location of three fully equipped science laboratories in the new construction. School-wide student activities spaces are also a key element of the program, including a renovated arts complex and a 300-seat dining facility (sized to accommodate the entire Lower, Middle or Upper School students at one sitting) on the lower level of the addition. The atrium is the school’s public square, and a place where the entire school can meet outside of the classroom. The Great Hall connects all four floors of the Middle School addition and serves as the hub of daily school life, a spectacular setting for special events and school-wide gatherings, and a covered “outdoor” space.
The massing, materials and details of the new construction are carefully modulated to complement the Neo-Gothic/Arts and Crafts style of the existing campus architecture, while simultaneously capturing a distinctly contemporary flavor that reflects the intellectual dynamism of the community.
Boston Society of Architects, Design Excellence Award for K-12 Schools