Hartford, CT – The long-awaited “extreme makeover” of Hartford’s Weaver High School will soon be a reality. The team of The S/L/A/M Collaborative and Amenta Emma Architects was selected to provide Hartford’s North End community with a transformed campus for the 40-year-old, 370,000sf high school located on Granby Street.
During the next four years, Weaver will be transformed into a theme-driven community school for grades 9-12, offering students three themes under one roof: The Academy of Hospitality and Tourism, which is an expansion of the Culinary Arts Academy; The Arts and Sciences Academy, a college preparatory model; and The Academy of Architecture & Urban Design.
The design will accommodate a projected enrollment of 900 students and after-hours use of the more public, multi-use spaces. Sustainable design measures such as increased natural light within the building and the use of cost-effective, energy-efficient materials and systems will meet Connecticut High Performance Building Standards. Existing features such as the multicourt field house with natatorium, stadium field with spectator seating, auditorium, practice fields, and tennis courts will be retained with moderate renovation. The school is expected to be completed for the 2018-2019 school year.
Anecdotally, Weaver’s entrance now contains a directive for students, which is literally written on the wall. In bold colorful letters is the phrase “Dream Big.” It’s a phrase the team embraced to deliver a solution that will inspire students to strive for greatness, and this team wants to help make that a reality for the entire community.
“Working together with the Hartford School Building Committee, our team offers a complementary set of skills and experiences to the Weaver High School project that will help create an educational environment the community, students and administration will be proud to call home,” both firm’s leadership said in a joint statement.
“Our shared goal is to provide Weaver with a learning environment that aligns them with the highest performing Connecticut schools, transforming the existing facility into a desired destination for faculty and students, “Glenn Gollenberg, AIA, SLAM principal and a member of Achieve Hartford’s Community Engagement Committee said.
“This is a strong community with a lot of history and a lot of well-earned pride. Our team is focused on creating an inviting building with an environment that reflects that pride and brings together the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods.” said Robert Emma, AIA, principal at Amenta Emma Architects.
Weaver has been an iconic institution in Hartford since 1922, when the original collegiate-gothic style facility was built on Ridgefield Street. In 1974, having outgrown its aging building, a new high school, designed for 2,000 students was built on Granby Street. That was 40 years ago and teaching methods, philosophies and styles have dramatically changed. SLAM + Amenta Emma team explained that during the past four years they conducted extensive research to position themselves to win this project, which included community representation and input, to determine the best use of this important resource.
Among the opportunities is the ability to create a physical link to existing community resources. According to team designers, the intent is to offer community and City agencies the opportunity for greater interaction with, and support for, youth and families. In Weaver’s case, it means strengthening the neighborhood by creating connections to nearby resources such as the University of Hartford, and neighborhood schools, as well as giving it a strong and respected educational identity.