- Redesign of the Norwalk branch of a school for students with learning disabilities
- Through the telling of a Story of Place™ and community engagement facilitation, the creation of a master plan for a school that celebrates its diverse and innovative nature
Project Description and Client Aspirations
Winston Preparatory School (WPS) was founded in Manhattan in 1981 by a group of concerned parents whose children had learning disabilities. The school has since opened a second school in Norwalk, CT at the repeated request of parents living in Connecticut that could not make the commute into Manhattan. The Norwalk campus opened in 2007 to the delight of the local community, and currently has over 80 students enrolled.
The school’s mission is to “facilitate the independence of individuals with learning problems through assessment driven individualized education, research, and outreach.”
WPS is currently undergoing Phase 2 of their master planning stage, and the executive director contacted 7Group (a member of the Alliance) to undertake the master planning and design of this new phase. John Boecker from 7Group recognized that in order for this project to truly be regenerative, a deep understanding of Norwalk and the surrounding area was essential, and so the project team was expanded to include Alliance members, Regenesis and Biohabitats.
A Diverse School for a Diverse City
Through interviews with locals, WPS faculty and parents of WPS students, the Alliance compiled a Story of Place™ to better understand both the essence of Norwalk and the essence of the school itself. A pattern that emerged from this Story of Place™ is the repetition of diversity; geographic diversity (Connecticut changes from estuarine fishing port to eastern seaboard urbanity to bucolic mountain life all within a short distance), municipal diversity (until relatively recently, Norwalk was made up of 5 separate municipalities, and today it has 24 neighborhoods, all of which have led to the establishment of many town centers, libraries and small business clusters), and ethnic and socioeconomic diversity (Norwalk has a myriad of socio-cultural groups living throughout its many centers).
The Alliance consolidated this information and engaged the WPS faculty, students, and parents, to show them how this school can be designed to not only fit in to its community, but how it can be designed to provide benefit to the community and region .
This project is ongoing, and the Alliance is consulting on the Master Plan for Phase 2 of the Winston Preparatory School’s Norwalk campus.