Hayground Wants To Expand The Farm

A rendering of the west elevation of the proposed new Hayground School.

From the roadside, the campus of the Hayground School appears uncluttered. Barnlike buildings are set back on a nearly 13-acre site between Mitchell and Butter lanes in Bridgehampton. But a visit to the alternative school, where the current enrollment of 85 students spend much of their time in the original six-room classroom building, tells a different story.

A common area in that building is filled with musical instruments, backpacks, books and artwork. Equipment for a shop class is stored outdoors, and Jeff’s Kitchen, a separate kitchen and cafeteria space, is pressed into service for classroom use. Even a portion of the school’s spacious gymnasium is used for storage.

Now, the school, which was founded 21 years ago, is planning to build a new 5,980-square-foot building that will be earmarked for art and science classrooms, although it could be argued that healthy doses of art and science are already being doled out for just about every class taught at the school.

“The school is literally bursting at the seams,” said David Berridge, the architect designing the new building. The current plans, which Mr. Berridge said have not yet been fully fleshed out in the interest of maintaining the utmost in flexibility, call for a pair of 60-by-30-foot classrooms as well as a rooftop open-air garden and classroom, restrooms and halls.

The building will be partially built below grade to lower its profile and be constructed just to the south of Jeff’s Kitchen, which Mr. Berridge said was “the heart and soul of the school.” The two buildings will be connected by a breezeway. Because the new building will have two floors, it must be equipped with an elevator.

Robert Hankins, the school’s director of development, said he hoped that work could begin on the building, which is expected to cost between $1 million and $1.3 million, within a year. He said the goal is to get commitments from principal donors for roughly a third to 60 percent of the cost before moving ahead with a more grassroots fundraising campaign.

Mr. Berridge is working on the project with John Barrows, a designer who specializes in green and sustainable buildings. While the rooftop’s use for classroom space will likely preclude the use of solar panels, Mr. Barrows said there will be many opportunities to make the structure energy-efficient, from precast foundation pieces that are installed with insulation in place to concrete floors that absorb heat entering the south-facing building during the day and release it at night. Whether it will be equipped with air conditioning is still up in the air, with Mr. Barrows suggesting it might be a waste of money with kids running in and out of the building during summer camp. But Mr. Berridge, sticking to the theme of maximum flexibility, said future programming might require that air conditioning be installed.

The school first aired plans for the new classroom building with the Southampton Town Planning Board last year, but Mr. Berridge said it decided to rethink the original design, which called for another one-story barnlike building, to make it more efficient. But when it came forward with plans for a flat-roofed building late last year, town planners referred it to the town Architectural Review Board. Mr. Berridge said that board has given its blessing to the preliminary plans. When the planning board held a hearing to consider site-plan approval on April 26, no objections were raised.

Sarah Stenn, a parent, board member and all-around volunteer at the school, said Hayground husbands its resources well. “There is not a lot of excess expense here,” she said. “Everyone is resourceful and creative with how they work.”

Keeping costs low helps the school provide some form of financial aid to 85 percent of the students who attend, she added.

“What makes Hayground really unique is it is so process-oriented and driven. And that it is not just about the end but it is really about the means, the journey, getting there,” she added. “There is a really wonderful, symbiotic method of education that goes on here.”