Mary E. Rodman Elementary School, a three-story educational facility in the City of Baltimore, was in desperate need of a renovation/addition to reinvigorate its students, teachers and community. SEI accomplished the monumental task of maintaining the existing building’s 73,269 SF structure while adding strategic additions totaling 8,381 SF on the limited 1.4 acre site without encroaching on the school’s minimal play area. Powerful collaboration with the 21st Century School Buildings Program, Baltimore City Public Schools, Maryland Stadium Authority, and the local community inspired SEI to create a LEED Silver, three-dimensional design that seamlessly blended the old with the new, revolutionizing the facility into an urban next generation learning environment.
A new two-story addition at the building’s entrance allowed the school to reinvent its image, providing a welcoming entry that is safe and secure. The building’s main west façade received horizontal shading fins adding dimension to the exterior planes while minimizing heat gain.
The public wing was redefined by creatively converting an existing auditorium to a high volume, impactful media center; adding a new stage in the cafeteria allowing for adaptability all hours; and crafting dedicated community spaces near a new secondary entrance adjacent to the neighboring recreation center. SEI cleverly used a change in elevation within the public wing of the building to create a gathering space which not only aids in circulation, but provides a lively, open seating area for the school and community to congregate with transparent views and access into the surrounding public spaces.
The instructional wing of the building was fully renovated and reprogrammed providing next generation classroom and support spaces with collaborative learning environments sculpted into the design. Specialty education spaces feature unique views with the science classroom overlooking the urban landscape and park while the art room is flooded with ideal north light with views of and direct access to an outdoor learning environment for projects.
The extremely compact site with intense topographic changes required an efficient use of the limited site area. The U-shaped building now cradles a multi-level plaza that is activated by the spaces it surrounds. An outdoor dining area was created adjacent to the cafeteria on the main level while a play area is adjacent to the classrooms on the lowest level. Connecting the two planes is an outdoor amphitheater for learning and performances.