Hugh Stubbins & Associates, 1955
Harleston Parker Medal, 1955
Country School opened in 1955 to help accommodate Weston’s burgeoning school-age population after World War II. It was Hugh Stubbins’s first commission over one million dollars, and the building brought him widespread recognition. Stubbins also designed Weston’s Woodland School, opened in 1960.
Just as modern house design reflected changing lifestyles, modern school design of the 1950s reflected new concepts in progressive education. Social and recreational experiences were considered essential to student development, and Stubbins’ pioneering school buildings became synonymous with early experiments in team teaching and “open classrooms” spreading through New England. Like his early small homes, these unpretentious school buildings were designed to be economical and efficient without sacrificing durable materials or design interest.
Even before the building was constructed, the preliminary plan received a 1954 design citation from Progressive Architecture’s first awards program. BSA’s Harleston Parker Medal followed in 1955. It was one of the first modern buildings to receive the award, and the jury praised Stubbins for his sensitive handling of a difficult site, where the creation of a level building platform would have required expensive blasting and removal of ledge. Instead, the irregular topography and beautifully wooded site became features of the design, with the building separated into two main wings that fit in the existing landscape, connected by a glass-sided ramp.
45 years later this creative response to the constrained site resulted in the building’s demolition, when its configuration presented major obstacles to expansion. Stubbins’ Woodland School survives.
Source: Weston Historical Society Bulletin, Vol. XL, No. 2, Fall 2009.