Written on Feb 18, 2021
SEI Design Feature: How do we accomplish outdoor educational programs on the1.4 acre urban site of Mary Rodman Elementary School? The extremely compact site with intense topographic changes required an efficient use of limited site area. SEI Architects, MK Consulting Engineers and Core Studio Design collaborated with 21st Century School Buildings Program to creatively design the school’s desired site programs while connecting the school site to its adjacent recreation center.
The U-shaped building now cradles a multi-level plaza that is activated by the spaces it surrounds. An outdoor dining area was established adjacent to the cafeteria on the main level while a protected urban play area is nestled on the lowest level adjacent to classrooms. Connecting the two planes is an outdoor amphitheater used for learning and performances.
As the school utilizes the adjacent recreation center’s play area and fields, the design team formally connected the two properties residing on differing elevations with a new attractive pedestrian connection. This path alongside the urban street edge provides playful seating integrated in planters and steps. As a result of its innovative design, the entire site now provides both form and function to its urban community.