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tenney grammar school

The Tenney School is the third of three PK-8 elementary/middle schools that underwent major additions and renovations based on an OMR feasibility study. Aside from its awkward site orientation and poor layout, the original school lacked the necessary program space to incorporate both an elementary and middle school into a single facility.

Merging two schools poses the challenge of creating a unified facility while recognizing the unique needs of each age group. In order to distinguish between the upper and lower grades, an entirely new wing houses the lower school. The upper school is in the existing renovated structure. The new addition not only provides symmetry by converting the ‘L-shaped’ footprint into a ‘U-shape’ that clarifies the building’s orientation, but also transforms the old parking lot into a courtyard that holds a Pre-K play area and accesses the playing fields.

The design incorporates two new separate cafeterias with a shared kitchen, and a small gymnasium built solely for the use of the lower school. Renovation of the larger, existing gym provides older students with a space scaled specifically to their needs. A shared media center and one-thousand seat auditorium sit at the center of the building to keep building costs low and help merge the schools into a single whole. The old Tenney School featured a large and inaccessible front entry that forced users to enter through the rear loading dock. Three new main entries, one each for the lower and upper schools, and one for community access to the gym and auditorium, resolve these circulation issues and give each school the feeling of a smaller, intimate community.