HMFH Architects

Elementary School

Arlington, MA

This new public K-5 elementary school exceeded expectations—but not the modest budget—resulting in a school that is energy-efficient and bright with daylight. The school includes diverse educational spaces and is accessible and welcoming as students approach it from all sides.

HMFH far exceeded Arlington Public School expectations. Thompson Elementary is a very lively, inspiring and welcoming place for our children to learn.

Kathleen Bodie Superintendent, Arlington Public Schools
  • Students 380
  • Grades K - 5
  • Size 57,600 ft2

When students, staff, and visitors enter the Thompson Elementary School, they are greeted by a colorful, open and welcoming space that carries the building’s playful exterior design through to the school’s interior. Stepping into the main lobby with an open reception area, they encounter bold color patterns, curving forms and a variety of sight lines to the main program spaces of the school. Each element of the experience is designed to welcome, surprise and delight.

The new building is sensitive to the dense, small-scale residential context and is sited to minimize the overall impact. A full-sized art classroom and library provide students with access to resources that were severely compromised in the original building. Many students walk to Thompson and approach the site from several directions. The main entry is accessed from two sides of the building, similar to a secondary entrance leading directly onto the K-1 corridor. Because the site faces residential streets on three sides and a heavily used public park on the fourth, there is no “back” side, a challenge that was addressed through lively masonry patterns and carefully placed window openings.


Children love the space outside the library because the lighting changes as the sun moves and you never know what it’s going to look like.

SHERI DONOVANSchool Principal
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