For more than a decade the City of Newport has struggled with finding an appropriate solution to its middle school housing problem. HMFH was initially hired to study options for saving or replacing the four building complex that is part of a major civic cluster on Broadway beside City Hall. While there was historic and sentimental value attached to the school, particularly the 1893 Townsend building, it was also extremely overcrowded and inadequate for the city’s nationally recognized middle school program.
HMFH’s solution, overwhelmingly approved by voters, called for demolition of all but the Townsend building, which was restored and incorporated into a new, three-story, 112,000 sf school for 720 students. Designed to enhance and support a team-centered middle school curriculum, the new facility accommodates three 80-student clusters per grade. Each pair of classrooms shares an operable partition enabling team-wide meetings. In addition, specialized instructional spaces such as art, music, tech. ed. and foreign language round out each floor. A Human Services Mall, a feature of the downtown Thompson School, is located off the lobby and can be easily reached from either school entrance. The preserved Townsend building houses administration on the ground floor and, above it, is a double-height library open to expose the architecturally interesting mansard roof. The stacked cafeteria and gymnasium complete the Broadway façade.