Hildreth Elementary School is a new PK-5 elementary school for the Town of Harvard in collaboration with the MSBA. Working closely with the architects and interior designers, the Graphic Design Studio developed a series of environmental graphics that support the building’s biophilic design and emphasis on health and wellness. The graphics program includes a large-scale wall mural, individual classroom graphics, custom sunscreens, as well as signage and wayfinding.
The 82-foot-long mural is a focal point alongside the school’s central amenity spaces. As students, families, and staff walk by the monumental Learning Stair, the mural introduces the school’s theme of nature with an illustrated map of Harvard featuring native flora and fauna. As students continue down the hall, they walk through an apple orchard—a key characteristic of the Harvard landscape—depicting all four seasons. As the leaves fall off the last tree, the mural transitions to a world map showcasing Earth’s biomes and highlighting a small selection of natural landmarks and their distances from Harvard. The mural serves as a teaching tool to help students understand their physical location and how they are connected to the broader world. Great care was taken to ensure an accurate representation of the globe. An Equal Earth projection was selected as the base for the large map, with additional map projections included above the media center shelving to illustrate a small sample of the many ways the Earth can be depicted two-dimensionally.
Classroom graphics feature Harvard’s native flora and fauna—the same plants and animals found on the mural–with custom illustrations at each room’s entrance. Bringing the natural environment inside the school walls offers a direct connection to nature while also educating students on their surrounding natural landscape.
Harvard’s natural landscape of apple orchards and rolling hills was integrated into a series of sunscreens located around the perimeter of the building. Fabricated from laser-cut, painted aluminum panels, the sunscreens add a unique finishing touch to the building’s exterior. The inside returns of the apples were painted red for an added element of discovery.