Hosmer Elementary School is a 143,500sf new construction project serving 590 elementary school students in grades K-5 and 200 pre-kindergarten and preschool students in its Early Childhood Learning Center. As the largest of the three public elementary schools in Watertown, the existing building and site served as a valuable community resource for its recreation fields and assembly spaces within its densely populated neighborhood. Over the span of its 50-year life, a series of additions created a haphazard floor plan that proved difficult to navigate and manage from an educational standpoint. Over the past several years, the School District began the process of reimagining the Hosmer Elementary School with a focus on a sustainable net-zero energy solution.
Through intelligent planning efforts and a highly efficient footprint, Ai3 overcame many inherent constraints without displacing students or requiring phased-occupied construction. In its design, the interior educational environment wraps around a three-sided, open-air courtyard that directly connects to the academic commons – a community feature – through a moveable glass wall. Natural daylight is prevalent throughout, while transparency and sustainability graphics provide continued connections to the outdoors from the inside. Traditional corridors are minimized by utilizing exposed structural elements that define small-group collaboration and student-centered learning spaces. Adaptable project labs are incorporated into the educational environment to address the future evolution of science, language, and the arts.
This technique of layering educational space allowed for a more compact layout, resulting in a much smaller overall building footprint – thereby increasing the energy efficiency of the building, reducing the project’s construction cost, and providing substantially more green space to the surrounding neighborhood and greater community. Once completed, the fully electric Hosmer Elementary School became the largest net-zero energy elementary school building in operation within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
“We worked with three other design firms prior to Ai3, and they were the secret to finally getting our town and our entire school system on track for $300 million in new construction and renovations. Their ability to take on complex challenges and create innovative and understandable solutions was invaluable.”