Memorial Middle School is an important and historic icon within the town of Hull, Mass. The three-story classical revival brick structure and its symbolic clock tower were constructed in 1948 as a memorial to World War II veterans and dedicated by then-Congressman John F. Kennedy.
The design challenge of converting this icon into a 21st-century, 395-pupil middle CAPACITY395COST PER SQ FT$137.68FEATURED IN2004 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYRenovation for grades 6 to 8 included significant historical, educational and organizational obstacles. Originally designed as a junior high school, the small segregated classrooms were scattered throughout the building footprint with no regard to contemporary teaching strategies such as teaming, group instruction and collaborative planning. The narrow, dark hallways and circulation areas provided little opportunity for student socialization or inspiration.
The design solution reconfigures the entire building plan into a “grade-level stacking” scheme with a group instructional area, collaborative teacher-planning area, and adequately sized and clearly organized academic classrooms on each floor. This reconfiguration required substantial demolition of existing interior walls without destroying any of the original historical character. The 21st-century library/media center was moved to a prominent central location on the third floor (the primary school entry is at the second-floor level), near technology and learning laboratories. New science and math laboratories are part of a 7,750-square-foot addition, which serves all three grade levels.
The classical portico and three-story stone columns, original slate roof, ornamented clock tower and symmetrical building facade served as inspiration for the design of the new addition, and the renovation of various existing interior spaces, including the auditorium, library, large-group instructional spaces, student dining and main entry lobby. The completed project is proof that a historic building can provide a 21st-century educational environment that respects the past and provides inspiration for the future.