New Wellesley High School Celebrates Early Opening

SMMA’s Wellesley High School design team joined town officials, students, faculty and residents to celebrate the opening of Wellesley’s new 280,000-square-foot high school. As class of ’40 and ’41 alumni ceremoniously turned out the lights in the old gymnasium, more than 1400 students walked from the old gymnasium to begin school in the adjacent new building. Scheduled to open in September, the new $115M high school was completed six months early and on budget.

According to Alex Pitkin, AIA, Senior Vice President and Director of Institutional Practice for SMMA, “the Wellesley High design was conceived and organized as a compact “hub-and-spoke” layout featuring student common spaces as central hubs on each floor.  The heart of the school includes a cafeteria/commons area that links community gathering spaces such as the 750-seat theater and 2,000-seat gymnasium within short walking distances from the general classrooms and student activity areas.”

The cafeteria commons is located at the main entrance and is a flexibly-designed public space, with adaptable facilities for pre and post-function events associated with the theater and gymnasium. A fitness center, library, auditorium, media center and light-filled offices are integrated with the hub and spoke layout.

Special materials and design elements from the old 1938 high school were integrated within the new building’s design. The High School’s iconic old clock was refurbished and placed on the new tower and the new library media center retained its designation as the Wilbury Crockett Library and holds the “1938 Room” a redesigned classroom which contains sconces, classroom wood trim and millwork salvaged from the former school as well as refurbished wood flooring from the original Wellesley Town Hall. The historic weathervane with its eagle and seventeen foot height, a cherished symbol of the old school, was reassembled and is displayed in the new lobby.

The old school is scheduled to be demolished in the coming months. An official dedication ceremony for the new Wellesley High School is scheduled for May.