Taking a fresh look at the layout can reveal alternative approaches that better accomplish the goals for the project. In the case of Capital Prep, where the study called for conversion of the existing auditorium into a cafeteria, and building a new library media space. SLAM showed how converting the auditorium into a library media center, using the existing gymnasium for the cafeteria and building a new gym to replace the old, provided better traffic flow on-site and placed the new construction in a location more conducive to construction activity on a tight site.
The three goals of the project were: Renovation of the school while respecting the urban site and context, as well as the style, material, and color palette of the original building; Preservation of enough site area for an athletic field in support of a comprehensive athletic program and the downtown north community; Completion of the project on an aggressive schedule (4 months design; 12 months construction).
The exteriors of the existing building were completely restored to the original 1927 design, while incorporating new high performance double-hung windows and wood doors. The new gymnasium addition was designed to coordinate seamlessly with the style and character of the existing school building, in tune with the client’s vision. Special attention was paid to harmonizing the new addition’s façade with the color palette and subtle ornamentation of the original. All existing brick veneer was carefully cleaned and restored. The interior design preserved the elaborate ceiling of the existing auditorium, which was re-purposed as the school’s spacious new double-height library, while the original gymnasium was also re-purposed to serve as the new cafeteria.
The new building had such a profound impact on the Downtown North neighborhood and received the Hartford Preservation Alliance Award for rehabilitation and new construction. With the complexity of re-purposing existing spaces, our team was able to reduce energy consumption of the existing structure to help meet energy efficiency goals set for the project.