CREC Discovery Academy

  • area / size 72,000 sqft
  • Completed 2015
  • Amenta Emma Architects designed the CREC (Capitol Region Education Council) Discovery Academy located in Wethersfield, Connecticut.

    An abandoned electric utility site is producing renewable energy in the form of a PK through Grade 5 magnet school devoted to literacy in STEM subjects.

    The site, adjacent to a busy Turnpike, was selected by the client because of the abundant wooded landscape and its availability in a challenging urban environment. The property included three abandoned 1950’s-era buildings. Making the property appropriate for its new life included soil remediation and demolition of two buildings and part of a third, as well as abatement of hazardous materials in the renovated portion. A new addition was added as well, for a total of 72,000 sf.

    Designers created two front doors: a parent drop-off and a bus drop-off, with canopies connecting to interior walls. The canopies do double duty collecting rain water for rain barrels. A spine of pavers draws students into an atrium with a signature water feature. A multipurpose gathering space, serving as cafeteria, gym or theater, is another first-floor highlight. Natural light transfuses the school.

    The exterior shell and curtain wall are designed to reflect light, representing the motion of the turnpike. The east side utilizes oscillating vertical fins that cast shadows across the building throughout the day.

    Outside learning spaces include a roof top garden, an amphitheater, labyrinths, a gathering circle under a signature oak tree, a rain garden, planting beds, nature trails, boardwalks and bridges. The property includes ball fields and playscapes, which are utilized by community residents as well.

    ArchitectAmenta Emma Architects
    Construction Manager: Downes Construction Company
    Robert Benson Photography