Cambridge, MA – A combined middle school and high school, designed by HMFH Architects to provide a diverse range of learning and social environments for 970 students in the Town of Winthrop, is now in its construction phase. The 189,500 square foot Winthrop Middle/High School is rising on the site of the Town’s former high school and is expected to open in September of 2016.
When approving the new school in a referendum vote, the Winthrop community chose to combine the middle and high schools after an HMFH feasibility study showed it would be less expensive to build one building with shared core spaces. While the two schools share the gym, auditorium, library, and kitchen within the new building, each school is designed to be substantially separate from the other. Distinct entrances, cafeterias and administrative offices are key part of the design and program layout and each school will have its own learning commons.
“By taking a long-term view of the town’s needs and combining the high school and middle school into a single new 21st Century building, the Winthrop community significantly reduced the capital cost outlay and opened up exciting opportunities for shared spaces and resources,” said Tina Stanislaski, AIA, Senior Associate and project manager for HMFH Architects. “Students will have an exciting variety of learning and social spaces, including expanded opportunities to experience science, technology and arts education outside of a traditional classroom.”
HMFH’s design of the Winthrop Middle/High School includes multiple spaces for hands-on workshops and learning. For example, the high school will continue its popular Viking Longships program, a course where students study Viking history and work in groups to design and build Norse themed projects ranging from ships to shoes. The Vikings is the team name for the school sports teams. A new fabrication lab will be used by students for Longships and other project-based activities. The learning commons for each school will have flexible, hands-on project spaces for students to work both independently and collaboratively on interdisciplinary projects.
The new school is designed to meet LEED Silver Certification by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). Among the multiple sustainability features of the building: the design allows for optimal floor to ceiling heights to accommodate an innovative ventilation and dehumidification system that will reduce the
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need for a fully air conditioned building. Other energy -conserving and cost-saving design elements include the use of high efficiency LED lighting within the school, use of natural light throughout the building to reduce electricity consumption, and recycling or reuse of construction and demolition materials from the old school to the new.