Deerfield Elementary School

Novi, Michigan

  • FIRM

    Fanning Howey


    Novi Community School District

  • AREA

    83,084 sq.ft.





A unique new K-4 magnet facility, Deerfield Elementary School accommodates more than 500 students in two multigrade neighborhoods. The neighborhoods are designed in a flexible, semi-open setting with large extended learning areas, or “discover” rooms that can be used for large- and small-group activities, special projects, access to technology resources, exhibits ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCAPACITY560COST PER SQ FT$131.00CITATIONElementary School Citation, Gold CitationFEATURED IN2001 Educational Interiors2001 Architectural PortfolioINTERIOR CATEGORYLibraries/Media Centers tutoring.

The flexible design of the academic neighborhoods supports the school’s multiage learning approach, in which kindergarten students often work and learn side-by-side with students up to fourth grade. The space facilitates group-based activities as well as individual learning opportunities, and enhances teacher planning and interaction. The school includes a large library, a gymnasium, a cafeteria and a community room.

A heavily wooded site with a large wetland area provided design challenges that were optimized as learning opportunities. The learning center is positioned at the heart of the school between the two neighborhoods and across from a wetland area. The center reflects and celebrates the natural environment, while providing a compelling connection to the exterior that underscores the importance of the outdoors in learning.

Within the learning center, suspended white acoustical tiles resemble clouds floating along a sky-blue ceiling. Four acoustical murals that border the room represent each season. A large-scale carpet graphic of the globe and phases of the sun and moon promotes science and astronomy. A reading and media room with a domed ceiling doubles as a planetarium.

The center links to the outside via a greenhouse space at the “prow” of the learning center. Planting areas extend along each length of the greenhouse, and wooden bridges pass through this natural area to the exterior learning courtyard, amphitheater and wetland area.

A colorful diorama depicting a woodland setting greets students and visitors as they enter the school. The diorama appears beneath an illuminated, 35-foot domed ceiling painted to resemble a vast sky. Below the sky, a carpet graphic reflects the earth’s core and corresponding layers.

In keeping with the environmental theme, natural earth-tone colors are used throughout.

"Rich forms, timeless graphics. Clever design in ceiling and floor...interesting space."--2001 Educational Interiors Showcase jury

"A well-executed theme approach that does not overwhelm and is supported by good core educational spaces. Wonderful use of lighting and plants."--2001 Architectural Portfolio jury