April 9, 2020 – Branford Public Schools and Town of Branford officials gathered in early March for a tour of the new academic wing at Francis Walsh Intermediate School. Originally constructed in 1970 on 29 acres, Antinozzi Associates was awarded the commission in 2016 to provide design and construction administration services to renovate 25% of the existing structure and replace 75% of the building with a new three-story, 116,000 SF addition. Intermediate-level education will be supported by a 21st Century learning philosophy, with technology incorporated throughout the entire school to promote connectivity and enhanced collaboration among classrooms. Phase II of construction is underway and the majority of the entire facility will be ready for students to start the 2020-2021 school year.
The interior design team at Antinozzi Associates drew their creative inspiration from Branford’s own landscape, resulting in a learning environment that is bursting with colors, textures, and symbolic representation of the Town’s history and geography. The first level, reminiscent of water, is drenched in shades of blue – a nod to the Town’s adjacency to Long Island Sound. This scheme also includes a mural of the nearby Thimble Islands on the cafeteria wall. Moving upward, a bright sunny stairway acts as the unifying element between sea and land – the inspiration for the second level of the school. Furniture, flooring materials, walls, and trim are designed to signify the streambeds, rocks, moss, and trees along the Stony Creek Trails and Stony Creek Quarry. Topping off the school building on the third level is a color palette evocative of the airy light blues of a clear sky.
Antinozzi Associates approaches all school projects with the same point of view – that of the student. A student has distinct physical and emotional needs that can be challenging, and every school project is designed with these needs in mind. In these transitional and formative years, the individuality of students must be encouraged and allowed to unfold. These are critical times in a student’s life when the die is cast for their future. The environment, and how it is designed, plays a large role in setting this developmental stage.