Sidwell Friends School Photography: ©  Peter Aaron/ESTO

Sidwell Friends School Photography: © Peter Aaron/ESTO

Article taken from Architectural Record

Sidwell Friends Middle School

Washington, DC

The master plan for this pre-K-through-12 Quaker independent school focused on meeting the programmatic needs of two separate campuses in Washington, DC, and Bethesda, MD. The plan seeks to unify the campuses through the development of coherent landscapes and improved pedestrian circulation and vehicular access.  Seven distinct building projects are planned for the two campuses. Principles of sustainable design guided the preliminary design of the building projects and the campus landscapes as a formal demonstration of the school’s commitment to Quaker values.

The Middle School renovation and addition transforms a fifty-year-old facility into an exterior and interior teaching landscape. The landscape and building exist within a broader network of systems, and represent those systems at the same time. Human systems-our relationships with natural resources-are embodied by the landscape and building as natural systems. The building has been awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum rating, the highest level of certification attainable, from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). It is the first K-12 school to achieve Platinum certification.

Several design factors contribute to the building’s energy economy.  Siting and orientation of the building optimize the use of daylight. Solar chimneys are designed for mechanically assisted natural ventilation to minimize the need for artificial cooling. South-facing glazing at the tops of the shafts heat the air within, creating a convection current which draws cooler air in through north-facing open windows. Classrooms were designed to optimize natural lighting as the primary daytime illumination source. A constructed wetland at the campus-side entry forecourt treats and recycles all building wastewater for gray water use within the building. The collection and diversion of rainwater through the vegetated roof demonstrate the interconnection and complexity of the natural watershed. A series of scuppers, open downspouts and gutters, flow forms and spillways direct rainwater to a biology pond, which supports the native habitat. Building materials are reused, recycled, rapidly renewable and/or regionally acquired, including reclaimed wood for the façade.

Formal name of project: Middle School, Sidwell Friends School

Location: Washington, DC

Gross square footage: 72,500 GSF (39,000 addition, plus 33,500 renovation)

Total construction cost: $28.5 Million

Owner: Sidwell Friends School


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