New Third Middle School, Downingtown Area School District, PA

Having completed the District’s Master Plan and Feasibility Study and updated its Educational Specifications, the Downingtown Area School District hired BH for architectural and related services required in the design and construction of the District’s 1,300-student, 166,000-SF third middle school.

Located on a 248-acre site that when fully developed will be a third academic campus that may include a new Elementary School, a new Middle School, a new High School, and a connecting road through the site, providing safer access from the western side of the school district’s attendance area. The site may also include open space for community use.

Using the completed new Educational Specifications and our iterative approach to design, we were able to expedite the design providing, many solutions to the programmatic requirements for review and input. Much of the discussion during our meetings also included the curriculum delivery concept being incorporated into middle school planning – the “schools-within-a-school” concept. From a physical facility viewpoint, this organizes classrooms so that four general purpose classrooms (math, social studies, literature, writing, English, and world languages), a science lab, and a teacher planning/preparation area are all in close proximity to each other. The overall classroom cluster was developed as multiples of this module.

Our experience has led us to advocate planning for flexibility. Given that education is an ever-evolving process, discussions during the Educational Specification development project resulted in the need for spaces to be arranged to provide the maximum flexibility. The new school was designed to be adaptive to new and innovative teaching techniques. Planning accommodated the potential for various grade configurations and could be acclimated for the vast amount of educational technology available now and in the future. The new Middle School was designed to operate as an interdisciplinary or departmentalized middle school.

Basic services provided included architecture; interior design; landscape architecture; and structural, mechanical, and electrical engineering. The work was performed with the firm of Fanning Howey Architects as Educational Planner and Associated Architect.