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Frederick County Middle School

Flexible places—moving out of the classroom

Winchester, Virginia

Who gets the most use out of a middle school, adults or students? The obvious answer being students, that raises an interesting question—why are schools often designed by adults and for the convenience of adults?

Frederick County Public Schools wanted to introduce a forward-looking campus for their under-served rural community. But they wanted to step outside the convention of double-loaded corridors lined with four-walled classrooms. To be a community space built to serve its real tenants—the students.

The new prototype that we developed sports a rich palette of warm brick, cultured stone, and natural wood. Inviting, not institutional. The benches and tables are moveable, designed on the principle that the students should be able to adapt their environment. The floor-to-ceiling glass walls partition the classrooms without interrupting sightlines—a choice that fosters community and collaboration. And they double as writing surfaces.

To serve the larger community, there’s an astronomy lab, a track, competition play fields, trails, and a competition gym with fitness loft.

Adaptability and student-focused design have made this middle school a beacon for Frederick County. It’s the sort of place where a student can look at any part of the building and say “this was designed for me.”

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