Groton's renovated and expanded Schoolhouse, which opened in the fall of 2015, has launched our iconic 1899 building—the heart of the School—into the 21st century and beyond.
An architectural tour de force, the project deftly integrates the stately original structure—which is virtually unchanged—with the new. The transition is seamless: Majestic windows of the original building surround a new light-filled, fifty-foot-high Forum, which leads to a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) addition.
Throughout the many years of planning for the Schoolhouse project, the emphasis remained consistently on mission: the Schoolhouse was built to provide a sound foundation beneath both the school’s academic program and its ethos of inclusion.
Designed to adapt nimbly to the needs of the future, the Schoolhouse project:
- Integrated state-of-the-art classrooms and labs for the STEM subjects, reflecting the increasing need for quantitative literacy. STEM-related facilities take up about 20,000 square feet of the 45,000-square-foot addition.
- Renovated many existing classrooms and constructed new spaces for the humanities, music, and shop
- Moved the McCormick Library from Hundred House, creating a new, research-oriented library in the center of the Schoolhouse
- Built a Fabrications Lab, where students can work on projects with numerous tools, such as 3D printers, ready to support their imaginations
- Created flexible classrooms where students work out problems on writable walls and project their work, wirelessly, for their classmates
- Constructed new and improved areas for socializing and individual and group study, and flexible spaces that are inspiring learning, creativity, and collaboration
The Forum, with its amphitheater seating, has quickly become a community crossroads, as it was intended, with numerous spots for meetings, study, and conversation. Students are taking full advantage of all the new spaces: They are joining friends in classrooms and project rooms for evening review sessions, studying in the library and in picturesque pods that jut above the Forum on the second floor, and hanging out in various scattered seating areas and nooks. Clubs, such as the Robotics and Engineering clubs, are grabbing the opportunities of the new spaces, including the Fabrications Lab.
Energy efficiency was a primary goal of the project. Despite its increased size, the new Schoolhouse is more efficient than it was before. Heating (and now cooling) will cost the same or less, thanks to geothermal wells installed under the Circle, the teardown of an inefficient science wing, light and movement sensors throughout, skylights and energy-efficient glass, and other energy-saving measures.
The architects of Shepley Bulfinch and the landscape architects of Reed Hilderbrand, both firms with extensive experience at Groton, designed the Schoolhouse project, with extensive input from trustees, faculty, and staff. Lee Kennedy was chosen as the construction company because of its experience with both academic settings and the complexities of joining historic buildings with new construction.
Groton School's Schoolhouse is now arguably one of the most beautiful, functional, and flexible academic buildings in the country—one that both respects the history and character of the beloved Schoolhouse and fulfill's the school's mission—to inspire lives of character, learning, leadership, and service