When you think of a boarding school, images of ivy-walled buildings and medieval architecture may come to mind. Whether your school conjures up scenes from Hogwarts or Blade Runner, the design of buildings and the campus environment are a big part of the private school experience.
Among the schools that are renowned for their spectacular buildings and imposing stature, many of them are in Massachusetts, a state with some of the oldest prep schools.
You may be unable to tour them all, but if you have the time, here are five Massachusetts boarding schools with impressive architectural design you won't want to miss on the campus tour.
On the edge of Concord, Massachusetts, just 20 miles outside Boston, lies the sprawling green campus of the Middlesex School. The campus was designed by the Olmsted Brothers architectural firm, and the firm Peabody and Stearns designed most of the main buildings.
Clay Centennial Center
This state-of-the-art facility has seven science laboratories, six math classrooms, and an astronomical observatory, which rises above the entry of the elegantly functional Science Center. The design features both the strategic preservation and enhancement of the historic School campus, originally planned by the distinguished Olmsted Brothers.
At the front, a new portico provides cover at the building entrance and elegantly accommodates access ramps. Expansions of the school's main dining hall, kitchen, and servery were likewise integrated with the Georgian revival style of Ware and the other buildings on the central lawn. To the rear is a substantial addition which houses the new student center. Since it is hidden from the school center, its two-story glass façade creates a modern presence on a new bell-shaped lawn.
The Eaglebrook School is an independent junior boarding school for boys in Deerfield, Massachusetts. Within the woods, fields, and mountain trails of the western Massachusetts campus, the school's buildings deviate from the traditional architecture of the New England prep school, but are charmingly rugged nonetheless, accompanied by breathtaking views of the Pioneer Valley.
The Eaglebrook School Lodge is home to offices of the Headmaster, Admissions, and Alumni and Development. Originally a sanitarium and former hunting camp, the Lodge was one of the first buildings at the Eaglebrook School.
The Chase Learning Center
The Chase Learning Center sits at the heart of campus and includes classrooms and a multi-purpose assembly area which is called the "Pit". The center added an addition, designed by Windigo, that emphasized the respect of the aesthetic character and symbolic meaning of the existing Learning Center structure.
Kravis House and Mayer House
Both of these dormitory houses are sit at the top of a hill with extraordinary views of the Deerfield Valley. Also designed by Windigo, the loggia that wraps around the dormitories provide a space from which to enjoy this view. The brick, stone, and wood material palette of the new dormitories reflects the architecture of the original buildings on campus and echoes the vernacular structures of the Berkshires.
Berkshire School was founded in 1907 beneath the "dome" of Mt. Everett in Sheffield, Massachusetts. The co-ed college preparatory boarding school features iconic ivy-covered, rustic buildings among a sprawling 400-acre campus. In 2002, The Boston Globe called the Berkshire school "one of the prettiest campuses in Massachusetts, or anywhere."
Math and Science Center
Opened for the 2012 academic year and certified LEED Gold, the 48,000-square-foot Center features six math classrooms, eight science classroom labs, a 100-seat teaching auditorium, department offices, and two advanced math/science labs equipped with state-of-the-art research tools. The building was designed by Centerbrook to continue Berkshire's longstanding commitment to conservation and the natural world around it and takes best environmental advantage of its dramatic site by running north/south: parallel to the school's central Buck Valley to the east and to Mount Everett to the west.
In the fall of 2008 Berkshire Hall, the school's main academic building built in 1930, reopened after a year of restoration. The newly renovated Hall, carried out by Finegold Alexander is noted for its expansive atrium, bright classrooms flooded with natural light, honey-colored wood trim and natural accents, and state-of-the-art technology throughout.
St. Mark's School
St. Mark's School is a coeducational, Episcopal, preparatory school outside of Boston. Its 250-acre campus is home to brick and Tudor-styled structures. As new buildings are added, the school has been careful to align its design with pre-existing buildings, while updating older buildings with the amenities recent design and architectural advances allow.
The Main Building is the heart of school activity, housing most classrooms and administrative offices. St. Mark's "School Under One Roof " model, established at its founding in 1865 and made fully possible by the Main Building when it was first occupied in 1890, is a critical component of an impactful St. Mark's education. In 2012, St. Mark's received a $5 million challenge grant from an anonymous foundation to fund substantial renovations to the School's historic Main Building as part of its Strategic Plan 2020. These renovations will include space for housing the Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning.
Beautiful and intimate, Belmont Chapel provides a sacred space, set aside from the rest of our busy, achievement-oriented lives, that grounds and informs the heart, soul, and spirit of the St. Mark's community.
Miss Hall's School
Miss Hall's School, located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is a highly selective independent school for girls aged 14–18. It was one of the first girls' boarding schools established in New England.
The Georgian-style, 90,000-square-foot Main Building was built in 1923. It underwent an eight-year, renovation and expansion that began in 1996. In this building are classrooms, laboratories, choral and instrumental music rehearsal space, administrative offices, the Humes Euston Hall Library, and residential hallways.
Elizabeth Gatchell Klein Arts Center
Built in 2001, the Klein Center houses the School's Ceramics, Photography, Studio Art, and Theatrical programs and is home to theatrical performances, campus gatherings, and student art exhibits throughout the school year. Its facilities include an expansive art studio, a state-of-the-art photography studio and darkroom. The complex is also home to the Woods Theater, a large theater space with a balcony, sound and lighting booth, lighting grid, and flexible seating and floor plans that can accommodate 200 people for staged performances. Klein's naturally lit atrium and entry hall frequently features student art exhibits and gatherings.
Design & The Private School Experience
As you can see, not all independent schools look the same. Each school has its own distinct style and design that influences the campus experience. While many schools are steeped in traditions, as they renovate and add new buildings, they have begun to integrate modern elements to create a new history.
Tell us what you think -- what school has the best design? Tell us in the comments.