The design of an elementary school for 500 students on a heavily wooded site in rural Connecticut provides an opportunity to integrate nature with day-to-day experiences. The prevailing elementary school plan typology—a series of double-loaded corridors with special functional elements at either end—is reconfigured to allow existing trees to perforate the plan, creating COST PER SQ FT$195.00CITATIONSpecial CitationFEATURED IN2004 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYCommon Areas series of courtyards that become outdoor classrooms within the building volume. This introduction of natural light and air permits a compactness to the plan that minimizes site disturbances and prevents the unnecessary removal of additional trees.
The plan is organized by grade level, kindergarten to fifth grade lining the east and west edges, and shared elements—art, cafeteria, gymnasium, music, resource and gifted rooms, special science—in between. At the plan’s center is the library/media center, which opens onto an outdoor courtyard. Access to the building is provided through two primary entrances: a bus dropoff on the building’s south side and a parent dropoff on the north. This separation of entrance routes eliminates the need for a perimeter road encircling the school, which results in each classroom looking onto a wooded area instead of a parking lot. The bus dropoff area also serves as the playground, minimizing the amount of paved area and stormwater runoff.
"Beautiful design...learning and the environment merge. Wonderful!"--2004 jury