Glastonbury, CT – The S/L/A/M Collaborative (SLAM), working in partnership with Torrington Public Schools (TPS), the City of Torrington, owner representative Construction Solutions Group (CSG) of East Hartford, and construction manager O&G Industries, are expected to break ground this summer on Torrington Middle School and High School.
The building’s exterior design features a modern curtainwall infusing abundant natural light and a brick facade that harkens back to the region’s beginnings as industrial leaders. The new building is located on the current high school’s 31-acre site and the existing high school will remain operational during construction. It will then be demolished once the new building is occupied.
SLAM worked closely with TPS, the Board of Education and the Building Committee during the design phase to ensure the learning environments and configuration of the new school will reflect the needs and expectations of the Torrington community.
“We are honored to serve the Torrington community as the architect of this landmark project that will provide them with a new, vibrant, modern, educational facility,” said Kemp Morhardt, AIA, principal-in-charge, SLAM. “The new building will support rigorous 21st century curricula, including flexible spaces that will accommodate current and future academic pathways at the middle and high school levels and performing and visual arts facilities worthy of Torrington High School’s celebrated arts programs.”
After an influx of new residents to Torrington during the Covid-19 pandemic, SLAM adjusted the design to accommodate a larger student enrollment than originally planned, now totaling 1,650 students: 629 in the middle school and 1,021 in the high school. The new 310,000sf school is designed with separate entrances and wings for a 3-story middle school and 4-story high school connected by common facilities at the main level, including an auditorium and performance stage, two separate dining rooms, two gymnasia, and support spaces for athletes.
The middle school will feature specialty environments supporting programs with two STEM makerspaces and a computer coding lab that are examples of spaces they will encounter in the high school. Classrooms arranged in small learning communities for grades 7 to 8, along with dispersed administration and support services, will be located on the two upper floors.
A vital component of the current high school are career pathway programs for grades 9 to 12, providing hands-on training opportunities for students to sharpen their skill set in a variety of industries including the fields of education, health and wellness, business, military/JROTC, and STEM/high tech. For example, in the Health and Wellness Pathway students will be exposed to a modernized program including a culinary lab, health-focused classrooms, and a sports medicine/athletic trainer’s room.
High school students with an interest in automotive technology, manufacturing, and high tech, will be exposed to an automotive shop, construction technology lab, and engineering labs with CNC machining, 3-D printing, robotics, and drones. In addition to a band room for up to 125 members, shared by both schools, there will be creative environments including an orchestra room, chorus room, and two music technology labs, video production, art, and ceramics, for developing musicians and artists. The new school will offer learning environments for students of all physical, emotional, and intellectual abilities, and the entire building and site will be ADA accessible.
Preparation of the area for the new building, including utility relocation, will take place this summer. Construction is slated to commence in October, with an occupancy date of February 2025. Demolition of the old building and construction of the new gymnasia and athletic fields will begin in March 2025, with a planned completion date of January 2026.
Many of the nation’s leading manufacturers began in the region, from Frederick Wolcott’s woolen mill to post-World War II manufacturing of machine tools, bearings, and shell casing, as well as the founding of global bearing manufacturer, the Torrington Company. Their notable red “T,” designed by architect Marcel Breuer, will remain a centerpiece of the new school’s landscape.
“The industrial and performing arts culture of Torrington was an inspiration for our design,” says Julija Singer, AIA, design principal, SLAM. “We enjoyed working with the community and sharing their passion for designing spaces for students where exploration, openness, and creativity will flourish. The new building is a place that offers that and much more.”