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Saxe Middle School Theater Renovation

New Canaan, CT

Saxe Middle School
Saxe Middle School

Design Response
The Saxe Middle School auditorium hadn’t been renovated since it was built in 1957 and with every student in the school required to take art and music, expanding the art and music rooms was a crucial part of the project. The JCJ team revamped the auditorium with new acoustics, new lighting and refurbished seats, and added a new two-story wing to the school, which is now home to STEM, art and science classrooms. The creation of the wing allows the music classrooms to expand to fit the growing number of students to fulfill their band, chorus or orchestra requirement. The old music classrooms are now practice and music technology rooms, while many of the former art classrooms have been enlarged. The band room went from 1,200- to 2,000-square-feet of space, now accommodating 150 students.

Saxe Middle School

Saxe Middle School

Background and Context
In 2015, JCJ Architecture was selected to renovate the 58 year-old Auditorium in addition to a two-story classroom addition on the northwest corner of the Saxe Middle School Campus, providing 12 new classrooms and right-size the overcrowded music rooms and add key storage for the auditorium and music instruments.

The addition and renovations were the first major changes to the school since JCJ renovated the 1950s-era junior high school to the needs of middle school teaming in 1999, where multiple informal gathering spaces were developed: new and existing learning areas were re-organized and linked by a variety of common and breakout spaces, and a student commons was developed to provide areas for events and large gatherings.

Saxe Middle School

While improvements were ongoing, students shuffled back and forth between the spaces — using the old music rooms while the auditorium was renovated and then practicing in the auditorium during the expansion of the music rooms.

Results
The renovated space allows the school to accommodate its student body, one of the largest of any middle school in the state. According to Saxe Building Committee Chair Penny Rashin, the project was completed both on time and on budget. The final cost of the project was $18.7 million.

It’s a beautiful, live, clear sound. It was excellent for us to play

- Chris Culter, Band Director

Saxe Middle School