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  Two Rivers Middle School, Page 14Two Rivers Middle School
49 Woodland Street, Hartford, CT 06105

East Hartford, Connecticut
Total Square Feet: 120,008
Construction Period: Nov 2000 to Sep 2002 

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: BVH Integrated Services, Inc. - 50 Griffin Road South, Bloomfield, CT 06002
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Bartlett Brainard Eacott, Inc. - 70 Griffin Road South, Bloomfield, CT 06002
ELECTRICAL & MECHANICAL ENGINEER: BVH Integrated Services, Inc. - 50 Griffin Road South, Bloomfield, CT 06002

Set adjacent to a flood plain forest at the confluence of the Connecticut and the Hockanum Rivers, this $25 million “Magnet” educational facility is designed to attract students with an interest in science, math, and technology. The school, created to ensure a diverse regional educational facility, serves 640 students from five separate communities ranging from the inner city to affluent suburbs. The design challenge was to use both the building itself and its magnificent natural setting to provide children from diverse backgrounds with a “living laboratory” for a hands on curriculum, tailored to motivate students with an active approach to learning.

Taking full advantage of the spectacular views, access to the surrounding flood plain forest, and riverfront landscape the facility encourages students to experience the science, math, and technology of nature. By exposing and expressing various structural components and building systems, such as cantilevers, tension rods, long span girder and joists, poured-inplace concrete, supported and bearing masonry, metal skin, curtain walls, punched and flush window openings, etc., the facility engages students and potential students in a dialogue about the man made environment in which they live.

The building’s extremely compact footprint and plan are largely dictated by site constraints. The facility achieves energy efficiency by limiting its exterior surface and providing both direct light through light wells and windows, and borrowed light by organizing upper floor teaching spaces around naturally lit lower floor public spaces. The building is organized around a main “tree of learning” stair with views to the outside and major public facilities like the 50-foot high “great hall” and cafeteria.

Sixth, Seventh and Eighth grade classrooms are organized by grade level into self-contained “academic villages” each with its own “village square” fulfilling a major programmatic requirement to create a use (student/teacher) friendly facility through intimate community scaled spaces. The ground floor contains all of the large-scale public facilities, which can be used independently or concurrently to encourage and develop a sense of “community” among students and parents of every diverse socioeconomic, ethnic and racial background.

Significant architectural challenges that were addressed by the project were: Getting light and views to all classrooms and most inhabited environments on a very tight site that required virtually full build out to the property line in order to accommodate the program; Difficult soil conditions requiring 356 pilings sunk to a depth of 95 feet in order to anchor the structure 8 stories below the surface; Acoustic and Structural issues dictated by the 3-story maximum program limit and site constraints which drove the decision to locate one academic village almost entirely above the long span of the gymnasium; and Providing a stimulating learning environment that by its very nature encourages students from wide ranging backgrounds to want to learn and faculty to want to teach.

DIV 04:
Masonry: Carolina Brick.
DIV 07: Ribbed Metal Wall Panels: Metecno
Morin; Membrane: GenFlex.
DIV 09: Resilient: Forbo; Carpet: Mohawk.

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