Oak Point Associates developed a program and designed a K-12 school that includes the island town of Vinalhaven’s entire school district and superintendent’s office, within one building. Construction of the new school took place on the existing site while the old school remained in operation. The largest challenge was to design and implement a project located on an island several miles from the mainland and connected only by a ferry. The challenge was met and this successful school has become an integral part of Vinalhaven’s island community.
Significant community input was gathered and a key project goal was that this large new structure would blend in with the island community and the surrounding environment. The architectural style reflects the historic coastal Maine style. The design incorporated separate “islands” for K-2, 3-5, middle and high schools, and a discovery island that branches off the centrally located library. The concept evolved from the idea that, although islands seem separate from the mainland, they are connected below the water’s surface. Grades are separated into wings, but maintain connection through the library.
Natural finishes and environmentally friendly materials were used wherever possible. Major architectural features include wood and granite from local sources. Granite block that creates accent walls in the lobby and library was sourced from a local quarry.
Energy costs on the island are quite high; therefore, the use of efficient systems and a building envelope design was critical. Daylighting techniques were used, including light shelves and skylights and clerestories for interior spaces. Heat recovery units, sensors to control lighting and ventilation systems, and in-floor radiant heat were provided throughout.