Parker Middle School

Reading, Massachusetts

The Parker School is a 600-student middle school built to replace the original Parker School, a 1927 building reputed to be the first junior high school built in the country. Major challenges facing the architect involved unusual site constraints, a limited budget and the desire for extensive community use of the school.

The small and irregular site is located in a ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCAPACITY620COST PER SQ FT$134.00FEATURED IN1998 Architectural Portfolio residential block surrounded by early 20th-century homes. Site planning, building footprint and building exterior detailing were carefully designed by the architect to complement the neighborhood and immediate surroundings. A building planning process was established to include periodic user input and program review sessions, along with neighborhood site program and plan reviews.

The town’s limited budget posed other challenges and would not allow construction of a new auditorium. The architect therefore designed a hybrid plan consisting of a new school that incorporates the original auditorium, and elegant space that had housed civic functions for more than 70 years. The design succeeded in preserving a civic institution at modest cost, while providing a facility that otherwise could not be part of the new building project.

Photographer: ©Peter Vanderwarker