Renewal Through Consolidation

The Center School
Stow, Massachusetts

After years of debate and several town delays, SMMA's comprehensive renovation of the Town of Stow’s beloved Center School building, along with substantial new construction, brought the community together in celebration of the project. 

 

The facility serves 600 K-5 students and 30 pre-K students in a 98,000-square-foot facility that brings two schools together. The project vacated the K-2 Pompositticut School, constructed as an open plan school in 1973, joining it with grades 3-5 at the original Center School location, built in 1954 (with additions in 1956 and 1958), and thereby providing a single elementary school for the town.

The project vacated the K-2 Pompositticut School, constructed as an open plan school in 1973, joining it with grades 3-5 at the original Center School location and thereby providing a single elementary school for the town.

 

The new Center School’s “T" shape breaks the facility into an early childhood wing, an elementary wing, and a public wing, joined at the T with administration, art, and media center spaces. Taking advantage of the lower-height original wing for early childhood classrooms, the volume of the school’s Great Hall was reinvented for music classrooms.

A Welcoming Atmosphere

The site and building were designed to separate the often conflicting parent drop-off/pick-up and faculty parking areas. The bright, open lobby, often used as a place for informal student and parent gathering, is the nexus for all circulation and public events at the school, a comfortable living room that visually connects the cafetorium, library, and arts spaces.

Variety > Tradition

SMMA’s design responds to 21st Century learning pedagogy, with multiple breakout spaces, L-shaped classrooms, numerous specialty learning spaces, widened corridors for teaching and learning, and an outdoor classroom. Breakout rooms are located between classrooms for each grade level, and can be accessed from each classroom, as well as the corridor. The media center nook provides an intimate space at reading time for younger students.

Valuing All Voices

Numerous community meetings and design charrettes, including ones focusing on sustainability, and many of which were televised, involved teachers, community members, parents, and students. Every teacher and staff member, and numerous students, met with our educational planner during the project’s multiple design phases.

Throughout the design process, opportunities to promote creativity and innovation were planned, including the student and community tile work, which was built into the main lobby; geometric shapes cut into classroom doors, providing views into the art rooms and the media center; and the design of the outdoor classroom and play areas.