KLHT is a PreK-12 institution that grew from an amalgam of two schools bordering each other in Stamford, Connecticut. The current campus thus has buildings that do not match each other in style or scale.
The school asked Centerbrook to update its master plan to bring order and cohesion to the campus as well as update and expand their facilities. It was important to KLHT to maintain good relations with their residential neighbors and minimize the impact of all construction on adjacent properties. The earliest projects were renovations to alleviate long-standing interior needs. The largest project, a new Middle School building, had a tight budget.
Centerbrook sited the new Middle School between the Upper and Lower Schools, at the back edge of the campus. The Middle School is near the Upper School to take advantage of its library, athletic facilities, and cafeteria. This siting unifies campus buildings, preserves campus open space, and keeps school buildings at the rear of the property, away from neighbors. It also mitigates the impact of drainage to nearby properties. A simplified traffic flow through the site improves safety, both on and off campus.
The new Middle School building is dark masonry with only two stories to fit comfortably on campus and present an unobtrusive profile to the surrounding neighborhood. The building's simple form houses classrooms, laboratories, art studios, music rooms, a large multi-purpose room, and a media café.
While dark on the outside, the interior is filled with natural light. The core of the building is a two-story skylit, oval rotunda at the main entrance. It is a dramatic entry to the school and fills both floors of the building with daylight. It reveals the most interesting building activities --like an arcade, it is surrounded by the media café, art room, large multi-purpose room, and music room. It is the hub of the building, an informal gathering place for students and teachers. It is also a natural security system with administration and teachers' rooms placed around it, allowing staff to easily monitor students and visitors as they come and go.
Photography © Jeff Goldberg/Esto