The Willow School, a new K-8 Independent School, is designed to reflect a mission that closely allies a progressive academic program with the school's natural surroundings. The Willow School uses their environment as a foundation for the learning experience. The site is a combination of farmland, woodland, and wetlands, and the master plan seeks to create a series of outdoor rooms that link the buildings to the varied and beautiful surroundings. The goal was a building and landscape that expresses a strong connection to the natural order.
Working with knowledgeable and committed consultants, FMG incorporated new environmental technologies that addressed issues such as storm water management, waste water management, and rainwater harvesting. The design minimizes site disturbance; utilizes photovoltaic energy sources; and uses passive solar and natural ventilation strategies to condition interior spaces. The benefits of natural light, acoustics, and air quality in the learning environment were all carefully considered. Environmentally sensitive material selections included certified or reclaimed lumber, incorporation of recycled, durable and non-toxic materials, and reclamation of stone from local unused barns. Most materials were purchased from sources within a 500-mile radius of the school to reduce energy consumption, and surplus supplies were donated to local charities such as Habitat for Humanity. The design maintained a balance between environmental goals and construction cost. Durable, low maintenance materials and systems were specified to obtain lower life cycle costs and reduce the impact on the environment. Suppliers were evaluated to insure costs were no more than industry standard.