Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates (CRA Architects) was presented with the challenge to design and construct a new 180,000 square foot K-8 school building for 1,600 students. The building is to be part of an existing educational campus with a Middle School and High School. The new structure should allow for enhanced learning environments and provide a sense of community. Our design efforts are aligned with the goals of providing an efficient and safe environment, sustainable design and promoting wellness, elicit pride for all students, parents teachers, administrators and community as well as ensuring a campus feel that is well connected to the surrounding community. Also part of the challenge was to make site improvements to accommodate new construction, storm water and improving existing play and parking areas for safety.
The new school is designed into two zones, public and private.
The public zone of the building is organized along a “Main Street” incorporating the assembly spaces of the program including gymnasium, cafeteria and auditorium. Shared specialty program spaces including media center, art and music are included within the public zone too and access to these spaces is controlled by an administrative program at the entry of the building. The administration also has clear lines of site for people approaching the building both vehicular and pedestrian. The public zone of the building can be accessed from multiple locations along the curved student street and the Open Cafeteria bisects the student street creating a break in the classroom wings to minimalize long hallways.
The private curved classroom wing of the building is organized into three clear grade structures. First is a two-story Kindergarten through 3rd grade wing directly adjacent to the main entry and administration for added supervision with younger students. This area is housed on the south end of the classroom wing and divided from the other grades by the cafeteria and library. The 4th and 5th grade rooms are located on the first floor and last the 6th-8th grade middle school program is on the northern end of the 2nd floor to create a middle school within the overall building.
Embedded within each of the 3 grade structures are individual “Grade Houses”. Each grade house contains not only classrooms, but also small group instruction, support, storage organized around open small group instruction areas allowing students to have a smaller residential scale to relate to within the facility.
The hub of each grade house are small group instruction areas directly adjacent to the classrooms and support allowing entire classrooms to interact, breakout of small group interaction or individual learning that can be visually monitored from the surrounding classrooms. Each pair of grade houses also shares a flexible classroom creating buffer and opportunities for shared teaching and scheduling ease. Each grade house is designed so that other grade structures do not have to enter their perspective area to access the shared “public” functions of the school.
Outdoor play areas and fields are separated for the age groups with a K-3 play area directly adjacent to the K-3 wing on the south end of the school. More formal play areas for physical education are located along the west side of the building directly adjacent to the Gymnasium and support program.
Safety & Security
Safety and security within and outside the building is developed around Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles including clear lines of sight, natural surveillance, access control and territorial reinforcement. The loop system within the building allows the grade houses to be locked down after hours and the core public zone can become open for community use after hours as needed. Two central courtyards are also proposed within the core of the building allowing for secure school day and after hours use.