Washington Drive Primary School

Centerport, New York

The challenge of this project was to create an inviting and child-friendly building from a previously abandoned elementary school. The new primary school needed to be 1½ times the size of the existing school. The Washington Drive Primary School had been empty for more than two years. Through careful planning and redistricting, the district has revived the facility and ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCOST PER SQ FT$123.57FEATURED IN2003 Educational Interiors2003 Architectural PortfolioINTERIOR CATEGORYCommon Areas it to set sail into the 21st century as a thoughtful and dynamic primary school.

In keeping with the community’s fishing tradition, the new building employs playful exterior masonry and ribbed metal detailing reflective of its metaphor as an animated fishing wharf or sailing ship for children.

The construction of the school was completed within budget and on schedule. Selective demolition of the existing structure gave way to the skillful erection of the new facility on a plateau surrounded by rolling hillsides. Amplifying existing building design strengths and eliminating weaknesses helped rein in costs.

During the planning stages, the design team met with neighbors surrounding the school property. Since the existing building had become vacant, area residents had made it a popular place to stroll. The design team incorporated as many requests from the neighbors as possible, most notably with regard to site lighting, landscaping and vehicular traffic patterns.

In the end, the success of the project can be measured not only by its efficient design, economy and sense of place, but also by the smiling faces of the students who will spend some of their formative years at this school. Memories of sailing ships, fishermen and beaches formed during their stay will accompany them along their life journeys. The hope is that the new school will inspire all who attend it.