Located in Western Massachusetts, Northfield Mount Hermon School is a coed boarding and day school offering a challenging and inspiring experience to its 650 students.
Northfield Mount Hermon School formed in 1971, when two prestigious single-sex boarding schools merged to create a dynamic coed preparatory school with two campuses 10 minutes apart by bus. Eventually it became too costly and academically inefficient to operate two campuses, as there were many redundancies in facilities and infrastructure. After much careful study and soul-searching, the school decided to merge onto one campus and reduce enrollment. Although each campus had a strong sense of history and lovely buildings, the school decided to retain the former boys’ school campus. However, the selected campus needed more student housing.
The design team was engaged to create housing that reflected the school’s dedication to a strong connection between faculty and students and also provided places for students to feel at home with one another outside of the classroom—although never allowing for the students to stray too far from adult supervision!
Emulating the existing, revered cottage housing was the first priority. Next, it was important to include much-loved details from the Northfield dorms such as locating the faculty studies so that they open into the student common space (with screen doors to keep pets and small children on the faculty side!). When a faculty member is on duty, the solid door is open, inviting students to drop in to chat or get help with homework. The best ratio of students to faculty apartments was established as 28 students and three faculty apartments in each cottage. In each cottage the first floor includes a common kitchen, study rooms, and a living room for all to share and to make the cottage even more like home for the students.
The design also provides a range of faculty apartment sizes, enabling the school to accommodate single, attached, and faculty members with children.
The design fits nicely with the rest of campus and furthers the cultivation of student-faculty relationships. The attention to faculty apartments helps the school retain good faculty members as their needs change over their time.
With Sasaki Associates
Robert Benson Photography