Idlehurst Elementary School

New 530-Student School

Somersworth, New Hampshire

This new 530-student, K-5 elementary school was designed to be expanded by four classrooms allowing for 100 additional students. The design solution for the new Idlehurst Elementary School is the result of a synthesis of high performance systems, use of durable, long-lasting materials, integration of natural daylight all used to support an environment that is appropriately scaled for students and teachers. Inspired by the local vernacular architecture the exterior design incorporates contemporary architectural details that are reminiscent of the historic character of the surrounding neighborhoods.
Tucked into a neighborhood community, the facility was sited to help maintain the rural nature of the area and was oriented to maximize solar heat gain and daylighting. To enhance safety, a separate bus drop-off loop drive is located on the opposite side of the building from the parent vehicle drop-off drive at the main entry. By carefully siting the building all program requirements were met, including providing adequate parking, reserving space for a future sports complex on the site, and planning for future building expansion.
Program space includes 24 classrooms, two speech and language rooms, a media center with computer lab, gymnasium, music and art rooms, and a cafetorium with a stage for performances. Parts of the school can be used as a community-wide resource, with the gymnasium, cafetorium, library and dedicated community room in a separate zone. Also, in the event of a disaster, the facility is designated a community shelter.
The project was designed to meet the Northeast CHPS program offered by the New Hampshire Department of Education for an additional 3% state building aid. The new facility features radiant slab heating and displacement air venting in all of the teaching spaces.
“Greenest School in New Hampshire,”  Ed Murdough, New Hampshire Department of Education
Photography by Blind Dog Photography and Joseph St. Pierre