Colorful forms, organizational clarity and daylighting are hallmarks of the Thompson Elementary School, a neighborhood K-5 school in Arlington, MA. Taking advantage of the diagonal east-west axis on the site, the design optimizes daylighting in the classroom wing and accommodates an extensive student garden system, restoring a lost portion of the site’s history as early 20th century market gardens. Programmatically, the school is organized around a simple plan that allows direct access to protected outdoor play for the youngest students. A full sized art classroom and library provides students with spaces that were severely compromised in the original building.
Many students walk to Thompson and approach the site from several sides, so the plan allows a central, open lobby serviced from two sides, along with a community entrance directly onto the K-1 corridor. And because the site faces residential streets on three sides and a heavily used public park on the fourth, there is no “back” side, a challenge that HMFH addressed through lively masonry patterns and carefully placed window openings.
Location: Arlington, MA, US
My Role: Architect