HMFH Architects

Reuse or Rebuild: Brookline as Case Study in School Planning & Management

In this article for School Planning & Management (now Spaces4Learning), Pip Lewis discusses the factors architects and communities must consider when deciding whether to rebuild or renovate aging existing facilities.

As communities face rising enrollment, they make the difficult—and often emotional—decisions to either reuse their existing buildings or build new schools. At the center of Brookline’s Coolidge Corner School complex was a 1913 Georgian schoolhouse, which John F. Kennedy and four of his siblings had attended. Through an extensive community process, the renovated historic schoolhouse became the heart of the new school complex and the addition of two new classroom wings.

Read our full article on this decision and process in Spaces4Learning.


This solution, bridging past and future generations, was achieved by renovating the centering historic building—an iconic focal point of the community—into a warm and welcoming entry that serves as the heart of the school and contains the administrative core. Two outdated and educationally inadequate wings, added in 1954 and 1974, were replaced with new academic spaces that meet the town’s educational goals and vision for the future. The formal arrangement of the school around the courtyard and Devotion House recalls the arrangement of the historical school complex and creates an inviting public space in Brookline’s Coolidge Corner neighborhood.”