Somerset Intermediate School
This intermediate school offers sixth and seventh-grade students a unique learning environment that has never before been available to them in this rural district. The building incorporates sustainable design concepts and extensive technology, and affords students a connection with the surrounding nature-rich environment.
Because enrollment in the county’s public schools was declining, officials realized they needed a reorganization plan to leverage available space and best serve the needs of the dispersed population. As a result, the architects were charged with designing a technology-oriented facility for sixth and seventh-graders to include a strong instructional program for 21st Century students. The facility was to serve the entire community and become a model for other schools in the state.
Teachers, staff, students, and members of the community were heavily involved in the planning process. When it came time to discuss the character of the building and learning environment, the designers asked, “What do you think your school should be like?” The answer came back, “Brick, like every other school. What else would it be?” The design team seized upon the opportunity embedded in this question to transform the mindset and expectations of the community. They demonstrated how architecture for education can influence and inspire learning, and contribute to the creation of place that is authentic to its site. The design is the physical manifestation of the superintendent’s vision for her students, and the reflection of a rural community’s investment in its future through the design of a one-of-a-kind facility for learning.