T h e N e w S a n d y H o o k S c h o o l
The Main Street Scheme
(Above) Concept design drawings for first and second floor plans
(Below) Elevation studies
Welcome to Main Street
Through various reviews with Sandy Hook School staff, the Board of Education, and the Public Building & Site Commission, the Main Street Scheme was identified as the strongest of the proposed design schemes for several reasons: spatial efficiency of the single connecting primary corridor, multiple visual and physical connections to the natural landscape, and the design of the classrooms and exterior courtyards to promote a safe and secure learning environment.
During the workshop process, several compelling themes surfaced amidst discussions of the qualities of Newtown and Sandy Hook. One was the view of the Town from a distance, buildings and spires appearing above an undulating horizon of trees. The other was how the geology of water courses created the “sandy hook” after which the area was named.
As students from grades Pre-Kindergarten through Fourth grade arrive at school, they will be embraced by the curving plan of the school reaching out across the site as arms in a welcoming gesture. The undulating wood facade creates a backdrop to the rain garden in front of the building as students cross three metaphoric bridges into the school. Gabled “houses” emerge above this facade evoking the Town image from afar while the rain garden and bridges recall the Pootatuck River and its bridge in the center of Sandy Hook. The “Main Street” inside organizes all elective and administrative programs along the north side of the school with the classroom wings on the south radiating to the woods and to views of the natural environment. Assembly spaces such as the Cafeteria and Gym are grouped together at the west end for ease of access after school hours and their proximity to the playing fields.
From the main central lobby, vistas of nature appear between the classroom wings connecting the inside and outside with tree-like columns. The projected 506 students will be distributed between three classroom wings, two of which are 2-stories, which extend like fingers of an open hand on the site. Separating each one are three courtyards – individually programmed to meet various requirements of the school. Overlooking the central courtyard from the second floor are two breakout spaces – imagined as ‘treehouses’ to create an alternate intimate learning environment for the students.
...a visual connection to the iconic image of Newtown springing from the natural landscape.