Project: Eagle Hill 
Location: Hardwick, MA
 

     In early 2017, Windigo Architecture was invited to submit designs for a STEM wing addition to Eagle Hill School’s central classroom complex at the Hardwick, Massachusetts campus.  The school desired to create new robotics and maker space labs, enhance its existing science laboratory space, and develop a dynamic, signature common space for students.

     Windigo’s response tackled the brief as not simply an addition, but as a whole-building solution to both integrating additional STEM space into the campus and moving from a closed-off, cellular classroom model to an open, integrated learning model for all academic departments housed in the complex.   In addition to a drastically improved and updated learning environment, such a solution also gave Eagle Hill School the opportunity to update and unify its mechanical and fire protection systems for the existing complex, with the option of moving to a sustainable geothermal heating and cooling system.

     The existing site slopes up towards a low ridge, partially atop a subterranean rock ledge (as with many Massachusetts locations).  The existing buildings form an open ‘U’, each wing climbing up the slope from northwest to southeast.  Most students enter from the north and northwest from parking, dorms, or other academic buildings.  The existing entry here, however, is extremely utilitarian, and the lawn within the ‘U’ goes largely unused.

     Windigo’s addition celebrates and gathers together the threads of this circulation and entry by creating a large social stair, leading to a common reading and breakout area near the library.  Maker spaces overlook this common area through full-height glass walls.  An adjacent green roof above the library area offers an exterior social or learning area looking out towards Quabbin Reservoir and Eagle Hill’s athletic fields.  The addition references the traditional New England barns, particularly tobacco barns, that dot the landscape in western Massachusetts, but on a larger scale and with fully contemporary construction and spatial concepts.  The proposed design completes the ‘U’ of the existing buildings, creating an open cloister at the center.

      Each existing wing opens up to the common corridor for open classrooms and maximum opportunity for students and faculty to collaborate in flexible settings.  The principal academic departments each have a larger common space with special features relevant to the adjacent disciplines, such as reading and performing space in the English wing or terrariums, aquariums, and observatory space in the physical sciences wing.

     The proposed intervention creates a unified and collaborative learning environment. The chain of common spaces throughout the complex turns all common spaces into areas for learning and interaction, while relieving the density of the existing double-loaded corridors.  The addition serves as a front door and home for shared interactions, democratizing the use of the new facility.