Written on Dec 10, 2020
SEI Architect’s modernization and expansion of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School was designed to be a sustainable building that would ace the test of time, one that would not only exceed today’s standards, but that would inspire and invigorate its community for decades to come. With concepts focusing on three fronts: Minimizing Impact, Maximizing Durability and Integrating Ecology, the LEED Gold certified building seamlessly integrates sustainability into its design.
Minimize Impact: To inspire sustainability and natural appreciation the building itself must be sustainable and respectful of nature. To this end, we recommended modernizing and expanding the existing facility instead of replacement with new construction. Maintaining a majority of the existing steel, roof decking, floor slab, and masonry walls minimized the amount of new material required; what new material was needed was locally sourced and contained recycled content.The building’s MEP selections also supported the Minimal Impact strategy and included an energy-efficient ground-sourced heat pump system, low flow plumbing fixtures, and high efficiency LED lighting.
Maximize Durability: To remain meaningful, a building must last both in terms of the physical facility and in its ability to continually serve the evolving needs of Next Generation learning. We strove to create a layout that is efficient, flexible, and conducive to many different styles of learning, so the building would not require further remodeling or replacement for many decades. During design, we selected quality materials with high durability and long lifespans, including terrazzo flooring and masonry walls in the corridors, natural wood accents, and a 30-year roof.
Integrate Ecology: To foster environmental learning and stewardship a school must connect students with their local ecology and support nature-based learning programs. A large, open outdoor science classroom provides space for student projects and gardens, while an environmental learning courtyard plays home to turtles and a variety of local flora, all living under the shade of a young tree and supported by a small stream fed from a rain collection barrel. A raised, wood composite patio provides shelter for the turtles, and an opportunity for students to experience the courtyard without disturbing the delicate ecosystem.
By creating a design that minimized impact on the natural environment, maximized durability and longevity and created multi opportunities for nature-based learning, SEI was able to create a school that has become a beacon of sustainability to its local community and beyond.