Hartford Classic Magnet School
Traditional schools in the Northeast are masonry, "old school thinking". This project show progressive thinking for implementing a durable material for a building type that has a small construction window of July to August in order to minimize disrupting existing school programs.
City officials in Hartford, Conn., took a new approach in soliciting proposals for a building to house a magnet school that previously had been located within an existing nearby high school. The RFP for the Hartford Classical Magnet School took a develop-design-build approach, asking a developer to partner with an architect and contractor to not only provide design and construction elements but also to suggest a site.
“This project was a first for the City of Hartford in terms of having a school delivered as a turnkey project,” says Mark Hopper, partner and design architect with Schoenhardt Architecture + Interior Design in Tariffville, Conn. The company created the winning design in partnership with the National Development Council of New York City. Whiting-Turner Construction Co. in New Haven served as construction manager, completing the design-build team.
The project combined a renovated 120,000-square-foot office building, which serves as the main school building, with the addition of 30,000 square feet of space for the theater, gymnasium and a main entry lobby. High-performance insulated architectural precast concrete panels were specified for the new structures’ façades. Coreslab Structures (CONN) Inc. in Thomaston, Conn., consulted on the project and produced the precast components.
The 9-inch-thick panels feature 3 inches of insulation sandwiched between two wythes of concrete, creating an R-value of 17 and a high sound density. The wall assembly also provides a fire rating that exceeds three hours. The system eliminated vapor and air infiltration while also minimizing maintenance. The panels saved time beyond offering a fast erection schedule, as they also offered a durable interior surface and an attractive façade without having multiple trades involved.
Three key ingredients drove the project team’s decisions, Hopper notes: remaining cost-conscious, meeting the tight schedule for opening some of the school’s operations in only a few months and meeting the programmatic needs of the facility. “As designers, we also wanted the project to be aesthetically pleasing.”