Last week Baltimore City Public Schools and the Maryland Stadium Authority celebrated the opening of five rebuilt or upgraded schools ahead of the new school year as part of the 21st Century School Buildings Program—a $1 billion initiative that will eventually bring as many as 28 modernized school buildings to the city.
Among these schools were the GWWO-designed Arundel Elementary School, which replaces the existing school on site, and the renovated and expanded Cherry Hill Elementary/Middle School, for which GWWO served as Associated Architect to prime consultant, JRS Architects. Both schools will serve students in the Cherry Hill neighborhood of Baltimore City, with Arundel Elementary School serving grades Pre-K through 2 and Cherry Hill Elementary/Middle School serving grades 3 through 8. Together, the schools support a set of programs that meets the needs of a closing elementary/middle school in the community.
Design for the new 113,647-SF Arundel Elementary School focused on providing its young users with a home away from home and incorporates many safe design features including a controlled entry vestibule. The building program includes classroom villages that provide each grade with its own group of classrooms, shared collaborative learning space, and resource room. The building also includes special education classrooms, a media center, cafetorium, gymnasium, and administrative areas.
The design of the facility also incorporates an Early Childhood Development Center, which will provide counseling for young parents in aspects of healthy child-rearing, as well as serving as a resource center. The program also includes specialized classrooms for infants and toddlers. Additionally, located on the north side of the building, the facility has a separate entry point that it shares with the school’s designated community space.
Since opening, the school has officially earned LEED Gold certification. Green design features incorporated into the building include daylighting, water-efficient fixtures, local and recycled materials, enhanced energy efficient mechanical systems, water efficient landscaping, sustainable stormwater management, and low VOC materials. The school received considerable points in the sustainable site category in relation to site selection, development density & community connectivity, alternative transportation, site development, stormwater design, heat islands effect, light pollution reduction, and joint use of facilities.
The design for the modernized Cherry Hill Elementary/Middle School preserved and renovated the original 30,000-SF, 1945 building, which was designated historic by Baltimore’s Commission on Historical and Architectural Preservation, as well as sensitively integrated 105,242-SF of new construction. Designed with 21st Century Learning in mind, the building is organized into a series of clusters—one for each grade—each including classrooms, collaborative learning space, a teacher planning room, and a resource room. An outdoor courtyard accessible from the school's main corridor provides flexible teaching space along with an outdoor learning classroom adjacent to the play area.
The program also includes science labs, robotics classroom, special education classrooms, communications suite, art studios, large and small music rehearsal spaces, media center, gymnasium, and cafeteria. Dedicated community space, complete with a secondary entrance, is also part of the program. The design increases the school’s capacity from 452 to 932 students and incorporates many sustainable design features including recycled and local building materials, low-emitting materials, natural daylighting, and high efficiency systems.
Both schools are on schedule to receive students for the new school year starting in September.