A compact and efficient plan vertically links the programmed labs and classrooms through four core gathering spaces that organize movement through the building: the dining hall, library, theater and gymnasium. This rigorous geometric concept—responsive to the educational plan, while solving the need to build around the existing building mass—focuses on areas of informal student social encounters. It is introduced at the front door with the welcoming dining commons—a flexible pre- and post-function community space, serving auditorium/theater and athletic events—and extends to a series of “living room” hubs at each floor.
Blending the Old and New
The Town of Wellesley sought to express its commitment to educational excellence through a new, community-focused high school. The history of Wellesley High School and its alumni played a large role in connecting the new facility to the high school’s rich legacy. Several elements of the original 1938 building were restored and utilized in the new structure, including an historic 18-foot tower cupola and its eagle weathervane, which serves as a sculpture in the main entrance.
Our approach focused on maintaining educational activity, while accommodating physical transformations within the perimeters of an existing building and an established residential neighborhood.
In addressing the Town of Wellesley’s concerns about the ability of its high school to meet the needs of a 21st century education, SMMA guided a rigorous collaborative process that included existing facility and site assessments; demographic analysis; pedagogical programming; concept designs for building renovations and additions; construction sequencing; and cost modeling. As an integrated, multidisciplinary design firm with a significant knowledge base in educational theory and practice, we were able to provide the necessary expertise in-house, and present the information in a cohesive way to facilitate the Town’s decision-making.