German Gerena Community School, Gallery Playscape Room Renovations

Springfield, Massachusetts

This project creates secure barriers between the Gerena Community School and an underground public atrium mall concourse and a health-department dental clinic. It also converted an adjoining unused gallery space into an indoor playscape for the school. The library overlooks and is open to the proposed playscape space directly beneath. There are no direct windows to ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCOST PER SQ FT$41.61FEATURED IN2013 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYPhysical-Education Facilities/Recreation CentersSUB CATEGORYRenovation exterior, and because it is being built underground, all finishes were of painted concrete.

Water intrusion, waterproofing of the existing floors, vapor permeability, sound and noise control, and security were the drivers forcing the construction, and ultimately the layout.

The finishes concept was influenced by the works of Dr. Seuss (Springfield is Theodore Geisel’s birthplace), the school library and other children’s literature. Security barriers evolved into “Whoville”-like houses, and the playscape evokes Jack & the Beanstalk, set amid a forest floor with a meandering rubber tile stream and stepping stones.

The school and the tunnels provide a link between two community neighborhoods. It is so important that a series about the school is being produced and aired by public television station, WGBY.