Wilson Middle School

Natick, MA

The new Wilson Middle School is an 850-pupil school for grades 5-8. The educational program required the population be divided into grade-level academic teams with some level of separation between the 5/6 and 7/8 academies. It also called for an organization that would support the existence of the 5th grade as an independent transitional academy, as the 5th grade was being moved into the middle school as part of a district-wide reorganization.

The school is organized around an interior courtyard, maximizing the amount of natural light in all classrooms and simplifying the building circulation. The design includes academic neighborhoods that combine flexible classrooms, project labs, internal courtyards, and science labs into a contiguous and highly connected team area. The design program includes an “Arts Center”, which organizes the performing and visual arts around a central core that includes a secondary main entry and dedicated lobby. The project included the need to preserve neighborhood green space, improve connectivity to the neighborhood, and strengthen connections between the middle school and the nearby elementary school.

The new school was constructed on a restrictive 13.0-acre site that included surrounding wetlands, complicated commercial zoning setback requirements, and residential and commercial abutters. The combined restrictions resulted in an allowable project area of approximately 4.0 acres. The compact two-story design combined with careful planning to ensure that safety, circulation, acoustics, dust, and security issues allowed the new school to be constructed directly adjacent (10 feet) to the existing school building without compromising the existing building’s continued operation as a middle school during construction.

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“Throughout the multiple phases of each project, Ai3 Architects demonstrated their design expertise as well as offered and provided exemplary service. Ai3 committed the time, effort, and energy to design a facility which met our particular needs. They have demonstrated that they are good listeners and communicators with parents, staff, officials, and community members. I highly recommend Ai3… they are truly invested in the quality of their architectural work and are committed to their projects and clients.”

Peggy R. Broekel Chairperson, Natick School Committee