In an article for Essentials magazine, HMFH Senior Associate Matt LaRue describes how the design of the new Chapman Middle School fosters student wellness. From the project’s initial stages through operation, the goal of creating a safe, healthy, and welcoming learning environment drove each and every design decision. Now open to students, the Chapman school provides myriad spaces where students feel supported and encouraged through their academic explorations.
Motivation, mission, and means were the Town of Weymouth’s springboard for planning and constructing the Maria Weston Chapman Middle School, whose doors opened to 1,470 students in grades 6, 7, and 8 on September 6, 2022. The $164.2 million facility replaced the outdated Chapman School on the same site, and at 252,170 square feet, it is now the largest middle school in Massachusetts. Robert Hedlund, Weymouth’s mayor, declared it “The most significant capital project that the Town has ever undertaken in its history.”
In response to concerns over the size of the school, educational planning and academic teaming spaces were structured to form concentric rings of support around each student. The space organization strategy progressed from the whole school to grade levels, and then to smaller academic neighborhoods. The organizational strategy around teams provides equity and a “home-base” identity for all students. It is also where they spend much of their school day and is the central planning unit for the whole school.
The second ring of support pairs two teams in a neighborhood, providing expanded resources, planning and supervision. The neighborhoods are grouped around a collaborative area consisting of a double height presentation space where students can share their ideas and an adjacent outdoor classroom for messy work and learning in nature.”