This new middle school for 950 students in grades 6-8 will help alleviate overcrowding in Upper Darby School District and establish an innovative new learning platform for students. The school is to be constructed at the site of a heavily used 14-acre community park. Hence, a key design goal is to minimize the building footprint and exterior pavement to retain maximum available space for recreation, athletics, and community events. Located in a dense residential neighborhood, the massing and materiality of the new three-story structure is being developed to reduce its scale and meld with surrounding homes. The integration of modern security strategies is another project priority; measures include fully separated bus and car drop-off lanes and an entry protocol that routes all visitors through the main office before gaining access to the school.
A core programmatic goal is to introduce a series of flexible and technology-rich spaces to enable the district’s evolving curriculum. Three STEM labs, one for each grade, are located at key corridor intersections with high visibility and configured to accommodate a range of project-based activities and experiments. The library/media center is prominently situated near the main entrance to reinforce the importance of literacy in the curriculum. The athletics suite includes a competition gym, auxiliary gym, fitness center, and locker rooms independently zoned to facilitate secure after-hours and weekend use. A combined cafeteria/auditorium with stage and environmental controls will support a range of performances and presentations. A full complement of classrooms for each grade are accompanied by a series of science labs with ample storage and shared prep areas as well as dedicated visual arts and music suites.