Discovery Elementary School opened in September 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. The warm and inviting 97,588 square foot building, designed by VMDO Architects and built with a student-centered wayfinding narrative in mind, exemplifies collaboration between a myriad of stakeholders including design and construction experts, educational leaders and community members.
The challenge was to integrate a 97,588 sq ft building into a residential neighborhood while keeping the entire PV array on the roof. By terracing the mass into a south-facing hill, the project met local goals for scale, community goals for preservation of flat, open space for recreation, and global goals for ideal orientation for solar generation. Discovery offers a positive example of a solution to the global crisis of climate change–and along the way emboldens students with the expectation that they are creative participants in those solutions.
The school’s design takes advantage of the topography of the site to create distinct, tiered academic zones and separate exterior play spaces for early childhood, primary, and elementary grade levels. Discovery’s public spaces are defined by a large roof canopy with a cedar soffit that runs the length of the school and serves as the school’s “front porch”. At the main entry, the roof extends out as a canopy with an oculus, which allows the entry plaza to serve as a large solar calendar that indicates both time of day and time of year.
Upon opening, Discovery was the largest net-zero energy (NZE) elementary school ever built in the United States, and was the first net-zero energy school of any kind in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It was the first NZE school in the Mid-Atlantic Region.
According to aia.org and discovery.apsva.us and vmdo.com. Source of photos: internet