A public school for grades 4 to 6, Southern Lehigh Intermediate School is set into the landscape to minimize disturbance and respect the existing topography. The building form evolved as a direct response to the site on which the predominant elements were a deteriorated tree row that demarcated the shared boundary between two cultivated fields. The tree CAPACITY1,000COST PER SQ FT$220.00FEATURED IN2011 Architectural Portfolio became the organizing element with the public functions of the building organized along the southern edge and academic functions organized along the northern edge. The resulting linear organization and east/west axis maximize daylight harvesting and views into the surrounding landscape.
Glazed bridges punctuate the tree row while connecting the public building core with the upper floor of the academic wing. These bridges also accentuate the progression through the building while reintroducing the reconstructed tree row as not only an organizing element, but also the focal point of the building.
Access to the building at both the public sector and the academic sector occurs on axis with the glazed bridges. The main entrance is held by the mass of the gymnasium on its eastern edge and the administration facilities on the western edge. The introduction of metal-panel cladding systems on these elements accentuates the entry sequence while contrasting with the masonry, which is the predominant building material.
Within the academic wing, open stairways culminate the axis generated by the pedestrian bridges. Access to the bus loading area is facilitated at these locations, further enhancing the literal and figurative progression through the building.