Helen Thompson School

West Gardiner, Maine
260 students grades K-5
34,000 sf Completed 1996

Having designed several schools for this district, we benefitted from a well-established working relationship with the client. Its strong preference for a single-storey structure led us to break down into three small “pavilions” what could have become a bulky, sprawling mass.

Two groups of six classrooms each surround high-ceilinged “living rooms”, and separate younger students from older. Sloping topography led us to set the large volume of the gymnasium/ cafetorium several feet below the academic areas, connected by a long, gentle ramp. With several windows, it is a joyful feature for the students.

The façade presents gables of different size and roof pitch, and memorable forms such as broad brick arches, white clock tower, and glazed greenhouse bay. With deep courtyards separating the pavilions, this school appears and functions like a village.

Photos:  Brian Vanden Brink