Central Valley CSD

Location:  Mohawk, NY

Completed:  Fall 2020

Program:  Middle School

Construction Type:  Addition + Rennovation

The Central Valley Central School District originated from the recent merging of two neighboring school districts in Mohawk, New York. This change created an opportunity to reconsider how the academic buildings within the district are used and to reinvent the educational delivery system with a more integrated STEM (Science Technology English Math) approach.

At the Middle school, the significant increase in the number of students necessitated larger gathering spaces and additional teaching areas.  With limited area available on the site, the small single-story library was strategically demolished to make space for a 4-story addition containing a new main entrance, enlarged Cafeteria, media center and auditorium as well as additional music classrooms.  Many of the other areas within the existing building were renovated to create more teaching space.

Within the addition, spaces are organized vertically from public to private, positioning the large 2-story cafeteria at the ground level with the auditorium and music classrooms occupying the upper floors.  The massing, materials and articulation of the design directly relates to the types of spaces contained inside.  The large transparent base and overhanging canopy create a welcoming new entrance to the building.  The interior of the cafeteria receives significant natural light through the large glass panels which visually extend the sense of space into the exterior plaza.  Up above, the limestone and metal panel shell of the auditorium is articulated to create a rhythmic and melodic quality to its surface and shields the interior performance space from daylight.  This large volume and its adjacent music classrooms appear to effortlessly suspended in space.

Placing the new cafeteria and auditorium spaces within the addition made significant space available within the existing building.  The previous auditorium space was infilled to increase the amount of usable floor area and allowed for the classrooms to be reorganized more effectively.  The result is that each grade has been organized into a ‘learning zone’ and occupies a different level within the building.  To encourage the shift to a project-based learning model, ‘learning zones’ contain a variety of spaces which allow many different types of instruction to take place.  The flexible central commons and surrounding classrooms implore full length moveable walls.  This allows half a grade level to collaborate on multi-disciplinary projects without having to move to another portion of the building.  Additionally, walls can be easily closed to support more traditional instruction when necessary.