A two-story, 21,000 sf addition expanded this elementary school in Rockville, Maryland. The original one-story, 40,800 sf school was built in 1965 and was first expanded in 1988 with an academic wing and gymnasium. The new $5.9 million addition consists of six new classrooms for kindergarten and grades 1-5, an art room, music rooms, an ESOL classroom, teacher offices and a conference room. New site improvements included a student drop-off loop, asphalt play area and new parking.
The Elementary School Addition is the first step in modernizing a 1965 school. The construction of the addition defines the character of the future renovation of the 62,000 sf existing building. The designed process discovered three fundamental connections, which the building sought to reinforce; first, accentuate the threshold between science and the arts; second, engage the site, connecting with nature; third, create place, connecting the students with their building.
The arts occupy a distinct volume, which rotates towards the site’s heavily wooded edge. This rotation opens the art and music rooms to the tree canopy and energizes the connecting corridor, the threshold between science and art.
The natural topography of the site allows the rotated art and music rooms to become an extension of the elevated tree canopy. These spaces are clad in a Cradle-to-Cradle certified metal panel, which emulates a digitized tree canopy. Large expansions of curtain wall allow the space to flow outward and connect with nature.
During construction students created hand prints that were placed in the building’s base. As building blocks for not only the school, but themselves, the students created a physical connection with this building. They will return year after year and measure their growth, placing their hands on their imprints, measuring growth; a restorative nostalgia.
Regional materials with high recycled content were used throughout the building, including Cradle-to-Cradle certified metal panels. The building was designed to receive extensive day light in each classroom.