In 2019, Hord Coplan Macht partnered with CCPS to assess the condition of the existing East Middle School building and site, and to provide recommendations for improvements to or the replacement of the current facility. Following a full feasibility study, the Board of Education approved a two-story replacement middle school on the existing site.
HCM embarked upon the full planning and design of this new 127,000 sf replacement middle school, located adjacent to the existing school. Numerous site challenges and the need to honor the historic importance of the existing school provided for a creative design response that honors East Middle School’s past while responding to current and future learning pedagogies.
The new predominantly two-story school is located in the middle of a dynamically hilled site with 50’ of elevation difference between the front and rear property lines. Bus access traverses down the initial descent to the school before a second slope continues down to a future playing field. Additional parking, athletic facilities, and a second vehicle access point join the school at the middle elevation. This arrangement allowed for continued function of the existing school building during construction of the replacement building.
The eastern wing of the school features two stories of learning spaces organized by grade level anchored to the school media center and administration suite. To the west of the administration and media center suite, a second classroom wing is anchored containing a third cluster of learning spaces organized by grade level, art and consumer science spaces, and the county’s B.E.S.T (Behavioral Educational Support Team) program spaces. The B.E.S.T. program provides controlled and structured learning alternatives for students who are unable to participate in the regular school program due to behavioral challenges. The program has long been contained in an add-on facility adjacent to the existing East Middle School, but is now being integrated into the new building design to discourage stigma and encourage student interaction.
The western wing of the school features one story of athletic, dining, music, health and technology spaces used by all grade levels. It will also be made available after-hours for community use of the athletic spaces and student dining space for community gatherings.
In response to the existing school’s art deco exterior detailing, the new building design features thematic use of geometric patterning in both interior and exterior building elements. Limestone art deco pieces are also being salvaged from the existing building to be reinstalled in interior, exterior, and site design elements highlighting the long history of the school building and its importance to the community.