Patriquin Architects Designs New Building for Greenwich Academy

| August 22, 2019

Public façade of Greenwich Academy’s new Pre-Connecting Building / Photo by Ian Christmann

Greenwich, CT – Patriquin Architects designed Greenwich Academy’s new Pre-Connecting Building that sets a standard for early childhood education that is playful, connected to nature, and highly conducive to the development of young minds. The building opened in April 2019, allowing young students to move in and get to know the space they will inhabit fully this fall.

Patriquin Architects designed the building through a highly-collaborative process, and AP Construction Company acted as general contractor.

In addition to two pre-kindergarten classrooms, the 4,000sf building provides a large, flexible multi-use space on its first floor. On the second floor, a three-bedroom faculty apartment helps Greenwich Academy attract excellent instructors for its young students.

The building’s architectural language reflects a collaborative process with the client (school leadership), users (teachers and facilities staff), and town regulatory agencies. A rigorous review process pushed the building toward a more traditional residential aesthetic, with white clapboard siding, a symmetrical façade, and traditional fenestration serving as the building’s public face.

The Pre-Connecting Building’s classrooms are full of light, exposed systems, and intimate spaces for students. / Photo by Ian Christmann

Patriquin Architects paired this with a more contemporary and playful language in the two classroom volumes facing the soccer fields and forest beyond. These two volumes, with folded-plane roofs, large high-performance windows, and natural cedar cladding, are angled to maximize daylighting and solar performance while creating a shared courtyard between them.

A collaborative design process also produced interior classroom environments that encourage play and social learning. Large areas of glazing provide ample daylight and views to the surrounding natural setting. Flexible furniture arrangements and “cozy areas” cultivate students’ desire to explore and take ownership of intimate spaces.

Exposed structure (engineered wood beams) and mechanical systems (high-efficiency heating and cooling systems) minimize the building’s environmental impact while allowing students to learn from their surroundings.

Playgrounds, nature paths, and flower, fruit and vegetable gardens surround the Pre-Connecting Building, supporting nature-based learning as a key component of the students’ education. This includes window boxes for plants and butterfly gardens just outside the classroom windows, and a number of raised beds in the shared courtyard that students are encouraged to tend.

Greenwich Academy is an independent, college preparatory day school for girls located on a 39-acre campus in central Greenwich. The school’s Ridgeview Campus serves its youngest students, with the new Pre-Connecting Building at its center.

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The younger students have articulated the benefits of this connection to nature: “We don’t need to turn the lights on very much because there are so many windows. And we can see the plants in the garden grow, right from our windows!”

The Pre-Connecting Building’s positive impact on its young students is already being seen. Jon-Ross Wiley, the head of Greenwich Academy’s Lower School states, “The new PC building sets a remarkable tone for learning. It is airy and light. It invites big thinking, play, and imagination. It is a calm space that allows the energy of the girls to dictate the classroom climate. Simply put, it is a place our teachers, students, and parents want to be.”

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Category: All, Education

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