The capital project at the Middle / High School included renovations which converted the old 1972 band room to a choral and general music room as well as reconfigured the old general music room to accommodate the High School’s growing pre-engineering program - Project Lead the Way. The addition of a new wing accommodates a new band room for 100 students, practice space and instrument storage as well as a new special education classroom which provides appropriate facilities for physically handicapped students enabling them to learn and further their creativity in the least restrictive environment.
Situated on the St Lawrence River, between the Lighthouse at Lake Ontario and the Thousand Islands Bridge in Upstate New York, its maritime location inspired its formal aesthetic, which takes from the image of cargo ships that travel by and represents a key aspect of life in this close-knit river community.
The addition at the corner of the site integrates the renovated areas of the music department with the existing auditorium and flexible café through the creation of more useful adjacencies and significantly better access routes.
Within immediate view from the highway, the corner addition brings visual prominence to the school, emphasizing its public perception as a significant institution within the community.
The new corner facade becomes a focal point which delineates the main entrance and though the volume of the addition becomes one of the school’s defining features, its tectonic language references that of the original structure as the building façade echoes the existing school’s finer details of brickwork and locally quarried granite.
The courtyard created between the existing structure and the addition has the capacity to function as an outdoor performance space. The descending steps become a seating area that looks upon a sunken stage area and its cast stone paneled backdrop.
Both the Choral Room renovation and Instrumental Music addition necessitated a design which provides optimal acoustic performance. This informed the formal strategy of the addition as the need for higher ceilings and lower reverberations became one of the main concepts of its design. This also allowed for the infiltration of natural daylight through clerestory windows. The use of both clear and diffused glass above the louvered sunshades enhanced the quality of light at various times of day.
The need for an exciting and highly acoustic space with Class "A" moderately priced materials led to the development of its design based on mathematically varied placements and sizes of different materials. The music spaces are treated with various types of ceiling tile matched size and shape wall panels of all the same type of diffuser.
The design at the school utilized binary math theory for the placement of various elements and their orientations. The diffusive elements (barrels on the wall and Quadratics in the ceilings) combined with variable absorption ratings and specific layout of the ceiling and wall panels provided a well-blended acoustical condition at moderate cost for optimal performance of voice and instrumental sound.
At night, the illuminated corner glazing becomes a beacon to draw both concert goers and athletic fans to night time events. The heart of the community is its school and this school reflects the strong local culture of the St. Lawrence River area.
Photos by John Griebsch Photography