K-12 Public Education
Weaver High School and Doc Hurley Fieldhouse

Weaver High School and Doc Hurley Fieldhouse

the story

Following the success of SLAM’s partnership with Hartford Public Schools on a district-wide master plan, SLAM, in collaboration with Amenta Emma Architects, was tasked with the first implementation of Hartford’s District Model for Excellence: transform the existing 40-year-old, 370,000 SF Weaver High School into a theme-driven community school for grades 9-12. The reimagined facility brought three schools together under one roof and offers students three academic pathways: The R. J. Kinsella Magnet School of Performing Arts, National Academy Foundation Insurance & Finance Academy (finance, business & insurance industries) and the Journalism and Media Academy (Broadcast Production and media-focused fields).

[logo] at-a-glance

Interior Design
Landscape Architecture
Programming & Planning
Hartford, CT
High School Completed 2019; Field House Completed 2020
370,000 SF

Weaver High School was designed in the 1960’s, when education researchers thought that enclosed environments with limited views would eliminate distractions and help students remain focused on learning. New studies have shown that the opposite is true, and that students perform better on tests if classrooms have views of green landscapes.


Working with an existing building with a sinking first-floor slab, hazardous materials, and low floor-to-ceiling heights was a challenge. While public spaces, such as breakout zones and stairwells did have light, the long façade was virtually windowless. Architects removed approximately 100,000 SF from the structure that included the 5th floor, several structural bays (one bay deep along the entire south façade), plus additional full height of the building. Stairwells in the first bay were removed to create an entry canopy.

Built in 1974, the 37,000 SF Weaver was initially designed for 2,000 students. A few building components were built larger than what is typically reimbursed by today’s standards but deemed too valuable to the school and as a resource to the neighborhood to demolish and rebuild at a smaller size.

To reflect the projected enrollment of 900 students, the project removed the academic wing’s 100,000 SF fifth floor and gut renovated the rest of the building. Three existing schools with established curricula were re-located into the newly renovated building and all have access to the renovated auditorium and field house as well as an array of specialty spaces.

The faculty of Weaver High do not have assigned classrooms, but move between different areas of the building and use lockers to store personal belongings. There are only 18 traditional classrooms and six science labs which leaves space for specialized areas in the school.

The decision to use synthetic turf was made to allow for multi-sport competition throughout the the year. Along with initial cost, expense was saved as an irrigation system is not required.


Sustainability measures such as increased natural light within the building and the use of cost-effective, energy-efficient materials and systems meets Connecticut High Performance Building Standards (LEED Gold equivalent). The school opened its doors to students in the Fall of 2019. Major renovations to the Doc Hurley Fieldhouse were completed later in 2020.

After-hours use of the more public, multiuse spaces gives greater access to resources, programming and extra-curriculars to the surrounding community.

Major renovations to the Doc Hurley Fieldhouse were completed summer 2020.

The Fieldhouse includes a fitness gym, locker room, indoor track and indoor gymnasium.

The locker room was equipped for athletes with showers, a player and coach viewing room, and equipment room.

SLAM and Amenta Emma’s strategic design created space for specialized areas, such as a broadcast booth for the school radio station, a black box theater, a dance studio, a costume-making classroom, medical clinic, and dentist facility.

Project Contacts

Kemp A. Morhardt AIA
Project Manager

860 368.4221

related projects