Hord Coplan Macht was the Associate Architect for the Murch Elementary School modernization project for the District of Columbia Public Schools. The design creates a 21st century learning environment for the students of Murch Elementary School. The addition was designed around three key concepts, including creating a Regio Emilia pod typology, creating a new central spine/main street and maximizing the site’s contiguous open play space.
The school’s 60,000 sf addition includes a new glass connector that lightly ties the new and old buildings together. This connection becomes the school’s new front door and lobby/welcome center. The media center’s transparent infill connects the school’s existing multipurpose room (now the new media center) with the lobby. Adjacent to the lobby are two pods that house Pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms on the first level and 4th and 5th grades on the second level. The classrooms are separated by a central collaboration area and an outdoor learning garden that allows ample natural daylight to enter the space.
The academic pods, the lobby, and the athletics pod are tied together by a new circulation spine. The circulation spine connects the school’s common spaces together, which include a full-size gymnasium and stage, media center, art and music rooms, maker space and science lab.
The addition is designed to be as efficient as possible to allow ample contiguous open space. Positioning the addition close to Davenport Street allows the open space from the National Park Service to be open and contiguous. While maximizing the open space, the design team carefully located entrances to the parking garage in order to create two pick-up and drop-off zones that are free of vehicular crossings. These zones allow safe access to and around the building and open play space. Architect of Record.: Ronnie McGhee Associates.