The Shady Hill School


Located between the famed Mt. Auburn Cemetery and endangered wetlands, the Shady Hill School is a private institution with students from the ages of four to twelve. The office was commissioned to design a studio arts complex, two new gymnasia, new playing fields and a new west side entrance to campus. The school prides itself on its simplicity and environmental awareness, and these characteristics are reflected in the design for both the arts studios and the gyms. The new arts complex is the first structure one sees from the new west entrance and thereby provides a new identity to the school. By constructing three new structures in proximity to an existing arts building, a new courtyard space is created, lined by an elevated wooden deck that allows for the reconnection of two disparate parts of the wetlands.

The gymnasia are located at the edge of the playing fields, and rise to their two-story height as they distance themselves from the main campus. The smaller of the two gyms also serves as a performance space, and has been designed accordingly. The larger gym accommodates an open-air rooftop playing area for additional practice space.

To reduce the scale of these large buildings, the gymnasia’s massing are further broken down by cladding the ground floor in wood siding and wooden planks, while the upper story is wrapped in double-glazed glass and glass louvers. Similar cladding materials are utilized on the arts complex. Both new facilities provide passive heating and cooling strategies in keeping with the school’s green design initiatives.

Year: 2009
Shady Hill Elementary School
Cambridge, MA

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