The new Durham Community School is on the same site as the former elementary school at the town's center. This presented some interesting phasing challenges because the existing school needed to remain open and functional during construction.
The new school is substantially larger and has more site features, including expanded parking facilities, a separate CAPACITY505COST PER SQ FT$179.00FEATURED IN2013 Architectural Portfolio and parent dropoff, expanded playground facilities and three new play fields. In addition, a 66-well geothermal heating and cooling system was incorporated into the new school.
The facility was designed to be a high-performance school in conjunction with the Maine High Performance Schools Program administered through Efficiency Maine. Many high-performance features were incorporated into the school’s design, including a daylight-harvesting system, sun shades and light shelves, solar thermal panels on the roof, an energy-management system with occupancy sensors and radiant slabs for heating distribution. Fresh air is delivered throughout the building using vertical displacement diffusers, which deliver clean, fresh air at the level of the occupants rather than high at the ceiling. The classroom wings are oriented on an east-west axis to take advantage of natural light, thus minimizing the need for artificial lighting and creating savings on energy bills. Solar thermal panels were used on the roof to generate hot water for use in the school.
The plan is divided into two basic areas. The main entrance brings visitors to a lobby serving the more public and community- oriented spaces such as the gymnasium, stage, cafeteria, kitchen, administration offices and library.
From there, one can access the quieter, student-oriented academic classroom wings. These classroom wings can be locked after hours when community events are ongoing. The administrative offices are easily accessible and highly visible from the main lobby, which provides for better security and after-hours control of visitors. The administrative office also has good visibility to the bus loop, parking and play areas to support a safe and secure school.