Stoddert Elementary School

Washington, DC

Just 19 months after design started, Stoddert Elementary School opened for the first day of school. When they returned to campus, students and their families were greeted by the Principal and teachers in a new entry plaza bounded by the original school building, the new addition and several monumental trees that characterize the site. From the plaza they can take in the combination of existing and new architecture and landscape that will create exciting new learning opportunities across the campus.

The existing 17,900 square foot building, originally built in 1932, has been complemented and completed by a 47,300 square foot addition. The addition replaces the two modular temporary buildings previously on-site and provides many of the resources that the school never had.

The modernized and expanded school provides state-of-the-art program spaces. Each student has a home base within one of the 14 modernized and new classrooms, each featuring flexible furniture, wireless networking, interactive whiteboards, plentiful display opportunities, storage, drinking fountains and sinks, abundant natural light as well as gracious views of the surrounding landscape. Complementing the classrooms are a host of resources not previously available to the school including a gymnasium, media center, cafeteria and multi-purpose art/science room.

The design encourages learning to extend into the landscape. From a double-sided stage that opens onto both the new gymnasium and a new outdoor amphitheater to a colonnaded loggia called “the porch,” the new building provides opportunities for students, teachers and community to gather outside and take advantage of the 6.5 acre site. On the east side of the campus, the ball field was restored and complemented by a community garden. On the west side, a large new playground takes advantage of the massed trees surrounding the site and “the porch” to create a unique new woodland courtyard.

The building enhances learning and inspires environmental stewardship. Inspired by the student led “Energy Patrol," Stoddert has been designed to take advantage of the school’s culture and site to create a campus that will become a sustainable inspiration for the entire community. Currently projected to achieve LEED for Schools Gold, the building will enhance learning by optimizing acoustics, enhancing indoor air quality, providing for thermal control/comfort, providing pervasive natural light and by engaging the students and community in understanding how the building systems conserve resources.

For example, Stoddert is the first school in the District of Columbia to be fully served by a ground source heating and cooling (aka: “geothermal”) system. An interactive kiosk in the “heart of the school” enables the Energy Patrol and their classmates to monitor and analyze the building’s use of energy and other resources. This performance data is also available to the interactive whiteboards on classrooms throughout the school.

Students and teachers will not be the only ones able to enjoy the facility – the school is designed to become the heart of the community. Carefully planned with OPEFM, DCPS and DPR, the building and campus will serve as a school during the day and as a community center after hours. Organized around a two-story central atrium that is the “heart of the school,” the impressively glazed gym with its full-sized basketball court and other resources are available for use by DPR patrons without disruption to the school program.

The building is the result of a collaborative design process. The building that greeted the students on August 23rd is the result of a lot of hard work over the past year and half by the school and community members on the School Improvement Team, the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization, Department of Park and Recreation, the design team lead by EE&K and the builder, Whiting Turner. By working closely together, the team has realized a project that befits this great school and its community.