U-32 School

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Clients Location

Montpelier, VT


70,000 sf addition
120,000 sf renovation

Category Sustainability Features
  • •Highly insulated ceilings and walls

  • •High efficiency woodchip heating system

  • •Daylighting plus energy efficient lighting

  • •Building re-use

  • EPA’s National Award for Energy Star School

Two School Communities Linked by Light Filled Spaces

Located in East Montpelier, Vermont, U-32 High School and Middle School serves five surrounding towns.  Over a 2 1/2 year period, citizens, school staff, students, state and local officials, and the design team produced a 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 is 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 energy efficient lighting on sensors; and an infrared computer network allowing unlimited physical reorganizations of computer locations throughout the school.

The High School and Middle School are 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 services, 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 playing fields and provides a backdrop to the Middle School amphitheater (or sitting steps), the Middle School classrooms, and the shared art facilities.  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 and classrooms, and dance studio.

“The addition and renovation were extremely well designed, cost effective, and functional. U-32’s energy consumption was noticeably reduced and the community ended up with a project that is a delight for all users.”

– Marta B. Cambra, Principal U-32 Middle & High School