U-32 School East Montpelier, VT

  • 2015—EPA’s National Award for Energy Star School

Located in East Montpelier, Vermont, U-32 High School and Middle School is the destination for five surrounding towns.

Over a 2 1/2; year period, citizens, school staff, students, state and local officials, and the design team produced a $14 million, state-of-the-art educational facility with a 70,000 sf addition in coordination with 120,000 sf of renovated spaces.

As a whole, U-32 was a cost efficient combination of energy-wise construction and mechanical/data systems, programmatic organization, and educational philosophy, all melded together with sensitive architectural design. The technical systems include: a cutting edge ventilation system; a high-efficiency woodchip heating system; high insulation packages in both the ceiling and walls; daylighting in all classrooms in coordination with an energy efficient lighting on sensors; and an infrared computer network allowing unlimited physical reorganizations of computer locations throughout the school.

Programmatically, the High School and Middle School were set apart architecturally via a chain of multi-purpose public spaces. A courtyard at the main entry leads students to the primary administrative and support areas. A second ‘courtyard’ atrium acts as a circulation hub, connecting all primary hallways to the library, student support, the science laboratory and green house, and related classrooms. The atrium is characterized by a double height space, skylights, and a 360° band of clerestory glass. A third exterior courtyard leads students to the play fields and provides a backdrop to the middle school amphitheater, or sitting steps, the Middle School classrooms (lower level of the new addition) and the shared art facilities (upper level of new addition).

Other improvements to the facility include a new gym, three new exterior playing fields, a renovated cafeteria, and upgrades to the weight room, auditorium, music spaces, classrooms and dance studio.