Blocks away for the epicenter of the 2015 Baltimore Uprising, a public elementary school begins a new chapter in this vibrant but disenfranchised neighborhood. A collaborative community process with parents, teachers and neighbors transformed an existing 1960's facility into the community school of the future.

Details

  • Urban public school
  • Creation of high-performance educational environments
  • 32,000-sf renovation; 60,000-sf addition
  • LEED Silver rating

Awards

  • 2018 Social Equity Design Award, AIA Baltimore
"Their team went above and beyond to demonstrate a deep understanding of what is important to our school community and was thoughtful and thorough in their work with us.” 
Tamara Hanson, Principal

Rebuilding a Community

The school was fully renovated, including the including the Auditorium, Gym, and Cafeteria. A 60,000 square foot addition was built, including modern, flexible learning spaces and facilities for shared community use. Dedicated spaces for student support services, parent volunteers and local organizations maximize the return on this long-awaited investment in the neighborhood.  
 
The site plan defines three principal outdoor spaces: a paved public square at the main entry, an outdoor classroom, and an open play field. The new Academic Wing extends the school to meet an existing public park, where students make use of the playground and basketball courts during the day, and the neighborhood uses them at other times.

Community Focused Design 

Parents, teachers, and neighbors joined the design team in a series of workshops from the feasibility study through design development. Community members helped identify priorities for the new school by placing Monopoly money on design features that were important to them. For example, community members fought to keep the dedicated Auditorium for both school and community use rather than a new standard cafetorium combined with dining. This led school administrators to select a renovation/ addition scheme over full replacement of the existing buildings. Going beyond a simple finish upgrade, the renovated Auditorium gives the school a more professional performance space featuring new theatrical lighting and sound systems, sloped seating, and acoustic panels. 
 
Community spaces include a community room, parent volunteer room, food pantry, clothing pantry and laundry, recreation and parks center, and the Judy Center which provides state-funded outreach for under-served children and families.

Learning Green 

Micro bio-retention planters work with the topography to manage stormwater runoff and beautify the site. Daylighting and automatic lighting controls reduce energy use. Solar gain is managed by high-performance glazing and interior and exterior shading devices. The main lobby connects to the outdoor classroom where students learn in and about the natural environment.

At the heart of the school, the lobby connects renovation with new, interior with exterior, and the school with its community.

Collaborative areas located off of the main corridor provide flexible breakout space for classrooms and bring daylight into the building. Bright, modern classrooms with flexible furniture support multiple teaching and learning styles. Large windows allow students to rest their eyes in the distance between periods of focusing on the page or screen. Curved perforated ceiling panels add whimsy to a low existing space while improving acoustics and masking utilities without adding substantial cost.