Kate Furbish Elementary School

Kate Furbish Elementary School was created to alleviate overcrowding in existing schools and allow for the addition of pre-kindergarten. CHA devised a concept of two schools integrated into one, sharing core facilities. The architectural design reduced the scale of the school and helped to harmonize with the neighborhood, while site circulation promoted student and campus safety. A single-story pre-kindergarten wing provides a secure space and offers direct access to an outdoor play area. Kindergarten through second grade are divided into two distinct "Houses," creating smaller communities. Central corridors house the library, art, music, gym and specialized support service classrooms.

The wooded site inspired a forest trails theme that guides interior spaces and wayfinding. The Pre-K wing draws from acorns and pinecones, symbolizing growth into trees. House A mirrors coniferous pines with green hues, while House B echoes deciduous oaks in oranges. The central corridor resembles a meadow's edge trail, adorned with vertical green elements and floor embedding. This trail converges with a cross corridor by the cafeteria and gym, where blue layers evoke the sensation of rippling water along a river's edge. The new school was completed on time and on budget and welcomed students for the 2020-2021 school year.

Photos courtesy of Blind Dog Photography

Project summary

90K sf.

New construction of 90,000 square feet.


Two "houses" create small communities.


Student body size of 616.

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Kathryn Cogan, LEED AP BD+C

Kathryn Cogan, LEED AP BD+C
Education Studio Leader

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Kathy manages K-12 and higher education projects, including a series of $40 million to $60 million new construction school projects, guiding them from feasibility studies and early concepts to public referendum and through design and construction. These projects have complex stakeholder groups and often require oversight from multiple state agencies.