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Manassas Park Elementary School Manassas Park City Schools


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Manassas Park City Schools Manassas Park Elementary School

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Manassas Park City Schools Manassas Park Elementary School

Project Overview The school’s design and curriculum draw from the educational and recreational opportunities of Camp Carondelet’s mixedoak deciduous forest. In 2009, the City of Manassas Park, Virginia, ambitiously expanded their existing K-3 elementary school campus. Two new building projects unite the campus and forge a strong relationship with historic Camp Carondelet. The new 128,343 GSF Manassas Park Elementary School (MPES) can house up to 825 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students. The new 12,120 GSF pre-K building is an independent wing of the existing Cougar Elementary School. Cougar Elementary can now accommodate grades pre-K through 2nd. The result is a consolidated campus serving children from age 4 to 11, many of whom live within walking & biking distance. The school’s design and curriculum draw from the educational and recreational opportunities of Camp Carondelet’s mixedoak deciduous forest. The entire project, including all site work, was built for $200/GSF. 6

Site Built on an existing impervious parking lot, MPES’s primary focus is Camp Carondelet – the encampment site of a Louisiana regiment during the Civil War. By nestling tight to the Camp, the building preserves open space and creates a ‘school in the woods.’ Native plants and ‘no-mow’ meadow grasses become low impact educational spaces, echoing the flora of the Camp.

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The outdoor classroom pictured to the left doubles as a storm water bio-retention facility. This educational and environmentally functional feature contributes to post-development storm water run-off rates for the site that are actually lower than storm water rates before the new buildings were built! Geothermal well fields installed beneath existing playfields guarantee preservation of the open play spaces for generations to come. 1

Manassas Park Elementary School (MPES) (2009)

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Cougar Pre-K (2009)

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Relocated Parking Lot

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Camp Cardondelet

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MPES Geothermal Well Field

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Pre-K Geothermal Well Field

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Rainwaster Cistern

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Manassas Park City Schools Manassas Park Elementary School


Manassas Park City Schools Manassas Park Elementary School

Creating Environmental Stewards Way-finding signs throughout the building highlight facts specific to seasons and creatures.

Unlike a typical ‘green’ building, a ‘green’ school should carry the additional obligation of creating environmental stewards out of its occupants. MPES is designed around the premise that people can’t be expected to preserve and protect something they don’t understand. Each classroom is themed after a local animal or plant – with ground dwelling creatures on the first floor, mid canopy flora on the second floor, and treetop/sky inhabitants on the third floor. Way-finding signs throughout the building highlight facts specific to seasons and creatures. The ‘trees’ in each hallway are random patterns of clear finished Poplar, Cherry, Ash, Oak and Maple planks mixed with full length mirrors – giving students the abstracted effect of walking in the woods. Each species can be found growing in the adjacent forest.

Students as Active Participants in Conservation Natural ventilation in the classrooms is encouraged by a ‘green light’ system. When the green light comes on, students know that windows may be opened in order to substitute natural ventilation for mechanical conditioning. Compressors in the heat pumps turn off, and natural convection currents circulate fresh air through the room. When the light turns off, students are quick to remind the teacher that any open windows need to be shut tightly once again.

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Manassas Park City Schools Manassas Park Elementary School

Canopy

Building Circulation As students move through the building during the school day and school year, they follow the progression of the seasons.

The school year starts in summer, and students enter the building in the morning near the Summer House. Moving down the corridor, children sequentially experience the Autumn House, the Winter Commons, and finally the Spring House. These themed ‘houses’ are denoted with signage and unique color schemes. Spring marks the end of the school year – and the end of the day, as students leave the building near the Spring House. Moving horizontally in the school reflects the passage of time, while moving up and down stairs represents moving vertically through the northern Virginia deciduous forest – like the nearby Camp Carondelet. The three floors of the school correspond to the levels of the forest. Signs on the three school floors depict flora and fauna that students will likely see out the windows. Wooden ‘trees’ along the walls in each house hallway - pictured to the right change - from trunks to limbs to branches from level to level.

Understory Forest Floor


Spring House

Autumn House

Winter Commons

Summer House


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Manassas Park City Schools Manassas Park Elementary School

Classrooms That Bring the Outside In Proven to increase student achievement, daylight floods each classroom. Bookshelf-to-ceiling glazing allows children to see out and others to see in.

In south facing classrooms, exterior sunshades block direct sunrays, while clearstory ‘light louvers’ redirect sunlight to the ceiling. Acoustical ceilings slope to reflect more ambient light while absorbing more noise than a flat ceiling. The result is a glare-free teaching wall with no artificial light! When the lights are needed, three rows of florescent fixtures, each with their own photosensor, automatically dim to adjust to changing exterior light conditions. Vacancy sensors automatically turn lights off, but occupants have to consciously flip a switch to turn them on. Transparency Properly oriented or shaded insulated glass provides a high degree of transparency. Whether reading in the corridor, working on group projects in breakout spaces, or studying in the courtyards – teachers can easily keep an eye on what’s going on. Large expanses of mirrors in the corridors reflect ambient light and views, while also encouraging student self esteem and proper behavior. There is a pervasive sense of openness – and students naturally assume the responsibility that is expected of them. Flexibility The entire campus is wired for WiFi access, and all 59 instructional classrooms are equipped with overhead projectors and SMART boards. Since each teacher is provided a professional workstation outside of the classroom, their classroom desks can be minimal, further encouraging rearrangement of furniture to suit the needs of each class period. Light 89 ‘solar-tubes’ are used throughout MPES to bring natural light into interior spaces. In the Media Center and Gym, the tubes can be dimmed to accommodate specific lighting needs. Abundant signage encourages students to always be aware of wasteful electricity usage.


Manassas Park City Schools Manassas Park Elementary School

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Manassas Park City Schools Manassas Park Elementary School


Manassas Park City Schools Manassas Park Elementary School

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Manassas Park City Schools Manassas Park Elementary School


Manassas Park City Schools Manassas Park Elementary School

Development of the Entire Student Each school day, all students receive large and small group instruction in language and math, while full time specialists teach science and social studies. Innovative teaching techniques combine with a sustainable building to provide opportunities not found in traditional schools. Spaces are tailored to accommodate the innovative ‘parallel block’ academic system used by Manassas Park. Each school day, all students receive large and small group instruction in language and math, while full time specialists teach science and social studies. Small group instruction is targeted at specific skill levels, while large group instruction allows for guided practice, discussion, and group projects among heterogeneous groups of learners. Instead of separating the 3rd, 4th, & 5th graders into the three ‘houses’ of the building, grades are evenly mixed in each house - allowing the teachers to build a multi-year relationship with a smaller number of students. Specialized instructional spaces were custom designed to the specific needs of art, music, PE, and technology programs. Every 5th grader at MPES learns an instrument, with plenty of space for practice and performance.

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Manassas Park City Schools Manassas Park Elementary School

Sustainable Design More than 75% of construction waste was diverted from landfills during the school’s construction, and 20% of the materials used to build the school are recycled products. Materials + Resources More than 75% of construction waste was diverted from landfills during the school’s construction, and 20% of the materials used to build the school are recycled products. The school even reduced its trash output by changing from disposable ‘sporks’ to real silverware in the cafeteria, keeping the students active in recycling – even at lunchtime. All millwork is constructed with wood native to Northern Virginia. A polished concrete floor reduced raw material and maintenance requirements. Indoor Environemental Quality Children are highly susceptible to harmful effects from ethanol and ether found in many conventional school cleaning materials. The building’s high performance flooring tiles never require stripping, waxing or polishing – the leading cause of poor indoor air quality in schools. The maintenance staff uses green cleaning products and procedures. Energy Uses

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Designed to meet the 2030 Challenge, the two buildings are designed to use 50% less energy than a typical code-compliant school. A spray-foam insulated envelope significantly surpasses the most stringent energy code requirements for insulation and air tightness. Ground source heat pumps housed in penthouses provide conditioned air to each individual classroom only when needed. Predicted energy savings will result in a 37% reduction in CO2 emissions. Utility bills collected since the April 2009 opening suggest that the facility will use approximately 36kBTUs/ GSF a year, compared with a national average of 70kBTUs/GSF per year for K-12 buildings.

Natural Ventilation

Water Rainwater is harvested from every roof surface of both buildings (61,500 sf total) and diverted into a 79,000 gallon rainwater cistern built to potable water standards. Captured water is used for toilet flushing and irrigation - which will conserve an anticipated 1.3 million gallons of water each year. The Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation awarded the project a $50,000 grant for the project’s positive contribution to water quality improvement. Utility bills have shown that neighboring Cougar Elementary uses a monthly average of 570% more water than the new Pre-K and Manassas Park Elementary buildings.

Ground-Source Well Fie


Manassas Park City Schools Manassas Park Elementary School

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Natural Ventilation Exhaust

Heat Pump For Each Classroom

Sloped Ceilings

Green Light Mode Indicator

Light Louvers

Three Auto-Dimming Lighting Zones

ground-so

eld g to well fi urce pipin

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rainw ater

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to ci

stern

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Manassas Park City Schools Manassas Park Elementary School


Manassas Park City Schools Manassas Park Elementary School

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Manassas Park City Schools Manassas Park Elementary School


Manassas Park City Schools Manassas Park Elementary School

Bright Beginnings Built using the same sustainable techniques as MPES, 100% of this one story building can be naturally day lighted during 90% of the average weather days in a year. Originally planned to be built as part of the Cougar Elementary project in 2000, the new Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) building is located between Cougar Elementary School and the new Manassas Park Elementary School. The Pre-K serves 70 students, including special-needs individuals. Spaces are custom sized for 4 & 5 year olds, including a 4 foot high ‘entrance door’ and cave-like window reading nooks oriented with views towards the hardwood forest. Built using the same sustainable techniques as MPES, 100% of this one story building can be naturally day lighted during 90% of the average weather days in a year. A separate geothermal well field was drilled exclusively for the Pre-K.

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VMDO Architects 200 E Market St Charlottesville, Va 22902 434.296.5684 vmdo.com

For more information on K-12 Education work please contact:

For more information on Manassas Park Elementary School please contact:

Bob Moje, FAIA, LEED AP moje@vmdo.com

Wyck Knox, AIA, LEED AP knox@vmdo.com

Wyck Knox, AIA, LEED AP knox@vmdo.com

Manassas Park Elementary School  
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