Goodwillie Environmental School
Grand Rapids, Michigan
At the Goodwillie School, students in fifth and sixth grades study environmental issues in coordination with their core studies.
Learning spaces include four classrooms joined in pairs, a large-group room, a visiting classroom and a deck that wraps the building. Outdoor learning spaces are as important as those inside—the site is a classroom.
The design process began by observing the program in its existing location. Students and teachers were included in charrettes. They said that a sense of fun should be incorporated into the building, and that it must not look like any other type of school.
The design included many innovative strategies and systems to improve the environmental performance of the building, which achieved LEED certification. Strategies included passive solar, daylighting and natural ventilation. A geothermal heat-pump system uses the constant temperature of the earth to heat and cool the building.
The Goodwillie School has provided a new standard for environmental education by its built example and the spaces for learning it creates.
“The project fits sensitively into its site, and both building and site support the educational program—the first through the use of project areas, and the latter through the development
of outdoor learning areas.”–2003 jury
Cost per Sq Ft
Elementary School Citation
2003 Architectural Portfolio
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