JCJ Architecture has been engaged by the New Fairfield Public Schools to redesign and replace significant components of a 1970’s era structure that was deemed by the town to have exceeded its useful life. The High School is currently co-located/connected to the Town’s Middle School and shares significant core spaces. The new 146,000 sf High School will be constructed adjacent to the existing building. Once the new facility is complete, the existing classroom wing and auditorium will be demolished, and the original gymnasium and natatorium will remain. In its final state, the middle school and high school will be separate buildings connected by a pedestrian plaza.
With significant grade change across the site, the building is designed in a 3-story configuration. The two circulation paths as well as Gymnasium, Auditorium and Event Center are unified around a central core - the School’s Dining and Learning Commons.
The academic core spaces are in a three-story wing with a number of central Learning Neighborhoods that are cross-disciplinary, combining science and general classrooms with faculty collaboration, breakout, seminar and conference spaces, and special education resource rooms. Career Technical Education (CTE) is integrated with the inclusion of Project Areas for collaboration between specialties. A strong connection at the middle level to the Learning Commons brings together all the Learning Neighborhoods as well as the School’s Design Lab and Media Productions Lab. A performing arts wing, located behind the stage, provides direct access to the auditorium; spaces will include instrumental, vocal and practice rooms.
The site is accessed via three driveways. With the easternmost driveway remaining in place, the westernmost driveway will be shifted to improve site lines and will be expanded to a full-movement driveway; a new exit-only drive is proposed to the east. The design of the site’s circulation was done to enhance and improve efficiency of vehicular access, circulation and pedestrian safety.