SEI embarked on a site specific educational specification and design for the replacement of Sharpsburg Elementary School on its existing site. The project launched with a visioning session of 30 passionate individuals representing all stakeholder groups. The influence of their rich civil war history, agricultural roots, historic stone on site, and Boonsboro pride are infused throughout the design.
A challenging 16 foot drop in grade on the site was used as a design feature to nestle the two-story building into the landscape and not overwhelm the town. This allowed a small town “one-story” entrance feel where the administration can surveil all traffic patterns. As the elevation drops to the back of the building, the lower level emerges. Using the established vision, the two-story classroom wing articulates a modern agricultural barn with a stone base.
The grades are arranged in three-classroom pods all sharing a collaborative learning area (CLA). The CLAs feature teaching walls with whiteboards and electronic technological displays as well as comfortable seating, perfect for small groups and collaborative efforts between classes. The CLAs, which also feature two toilets, are easily supervisable from each classroom from the glass windows.
The centerpiece of the design became the media center which is adjacent to the school’s Learning Studio. The media center features a mixture of stacks, teaching walls, technology, distance learning furniture and windows on the media center’s perimeter to allow for all mobile furniture in its core, promoting full adaptability. The adjacent Learning Studio provides project based learning during the school day as well as after hours for community use. The two spaces, both on different elevations, are creatively linked through a learning stair offering a myriad of different opportunities for all ages.
To establish a holistic site, SEI designed a variety of impactful outdoor learning environments. In addition to the traditional school spaces, an elevated plaza was designed between the Learning Studio and Art Room, offering an area for science experiments and art projects with views of the mountain vistas beyond. Finally, to commemorate the original historic building that was demolished, a memorial garden was designed in the building’s footprint, offering an area for reflection for the teachers and community alike.