Providence, Rhode Island


The Wheeler School, founded in 1899, serves a 1,000-student population, pre-K through 12th grade. The buildings on Wheeler’s tight urban campus were underserving the school, and academic adjacencies were in need of rearrangement. The master plan began with workshops with faculty and staff to examine space use at the various scales needed to accommodate Wheeler’s extensive programs, including classrooms for the visual arts, theater and music, a forum for student assemblies, and common spaces for gathering and collaboration.

Options for improving circulation and departmental relocation were explored and both building renewal and new construction studied. The result was a campus master plan focused on the optimization of existing buildings by improving connections between them. The plan also recommended preservation of Wheeler’s few large outdoor spaces, with sites for potential new construction limited to small, underused areas between existing buildings.

Three distinct projects emerged from the master plan: a new gateway and dining facility, a performing arts center, and an expansion of the Hamilton School, a school-within-a-school for students with learning differences. Following the master plan, ABA completed the award-winning Nulman Lewis Student Center and the Gilder Center for the Arts, as well as the renovation and expansion design for the Hamilton School. 

Location: Providence, Rhode Island

Project Team: Thomas M. Hotaling AIA, Steve Gerrard AIA, Jason Bowers AIA, Lindsey MacDonald (ABA); Agostini Construction Co., Inc. (Contractor); Odeh Engineering (Structural); Wilkinson Associates (MP / FP); Gaskell Associates (Electrical); Geisser Engineer (Civil); Pressley Associates (Landscape); Sladen Feinstein Integrated Lighting (Lighting); Wil-Spec (Specifications); Ramsey Loqa, PE (Code); Acentech (Acoustics); Simpson Gumpertz & Heger (Envelope Review); Queastor Group (Cost); Crabtree McGrath Associates (Food Service)