Freeman-Kennedy Elementary School

Norfolk, Massachusetts

WDA is working with Flansburgh Architects, the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), and the Norfolk School Building Committee on the planning and design of a the new Freeman-Centennial Elementary School in Norfolk, Massachusetts. Located on Boardman Street, the new 96,000 SF school is designed to accommodate 500 students in grades 3-6. The building occupies a scenic suburban site abutted by residential neighborhoods and public park land on all sides.

The overall design of the project provides the necessary facilities for education services, active and passive recreation, and vehicular | pedestrian circulation, while increasing safety measures for students and staff members. Passenger car and bus circulation routes are separated to reduce queuing and vehicular conflicts. Parking for staff and visitors is provided throughout the site and is located adjacent to major site elements such as the school building, playgrounds, and athletic fields. Improvements to pedestrian circulation include sidewalks along and from Boardman Street to the front of the new school, and a large front courtyard area for students to gather when arriving and departing the site.

Numerous enhancements to active recreation amenities are also included throughout the design. New playgrounds are designed and separated by appropriate age groups (Pre-K and Grades 3-6). These playgrounds will include equipment and surfacing materials that meet the latest standards in child safety and entertainment. In addition, a large hardscape play area, offering numerous game amenities, will be located adjacent to the playground serving grades 3-6. Each playground and play area will achieve full visibility from the school for safety purposes. To further achieve security goals without compromising aesthetics, an ornamental metal security fence will be developed for installation around the perimeter of all playgrounds and hardscape play areas.

A critical goal of the project is to introduce sustainable design principles to integrate the new school building within the surrounding landscape. Softening the architectural lines of the building, a series of vegetated curtains, irrigated by roof runoff extend up the exterior walls, and provide natural shade to a number of classrooms and other facilities throughout the school. At strategic locations within the new parking areas, bio-retention swales will collect and treat runoff from the surrounding pavement and provide a more aesthetically pleasing and ecologically sensitive solution to stormwater management. The design of the rear courtyard area will serve a didactic purpose, as it will provide an outdoor classroom setting and also serve as an interactive educational garden that will allow students to learn about the dynamics of the outdoor environment. Within the rear courtyard, a large rain garden planted with native and ecologically sustainable plants will collect, treat, and allow for the controlled infiltration of rainwater from the roof of the new school. In addition, the courtyard will include a large shade structure, designed to reflect the architectural character of the school building, which is large enough to accommodate full classes.

The numerous active, passive, and architectural spaces throughout the project area are then linked by strong, linear plantings of native shade trees and shrubs and native landscape boulders, carefully designed in the motif of a riverbed leading to and from the rear courtyard rain garden. This riverbed motif is continuous throughout the site, and is perforated as necessary to accommodate each programmatic element. The overall layout of the design program, along with the use of landscape materials as a unifying element, helps develop the new Freeman-Centennial School as a state-of-the-art, multi-use educational facility that works in true harmony with a sensitive surrounding ecological system.