Woodburn Elementary Morgantown, WV Jared Gorby & Andrew McKee May 2 nd , 2011 Landscape Architecture 451
Preface & Acknowledgments As future landscape architects, it will be our responsibility to be stewards of the land. This spring semester, we have worked to design a historically significant, smart-growth oriented school expansion that reflects the culture of the Woodburn community within Morgantown, West Virginia. Our designs correspond to the local environment, creating a cohesive site that keeps the history of this area alive. We would like to extend our thanks to Professor Hasenmyer and Professor Yuill for seeing us through the design process and providing support and knowledgeable feedback throughout. We would also like to thank Professor Kyber for providing us with an expert point of view into school and campus design. Additionally, we thank Mills Group LLC for providing us with a local, complex, and historically significant site and project to develop.
“ More than 10 years ago, the U.S. Department of Education estimated that the average age of American school facilities was 40 years. With the slowing education construction market, we can assume that this system of aging school facilities begs the question: Renovate or replace?” -American School & University publication, July 2010
The Monongahela BOA wants to build on an area of the Mileground at the intersection of WV 705 and US 119. The present owner of the land in question belongs to WVU, and is currently used as pasture and open farmland, but the site has a number of problems beneath the surface and the surrounding areas. The NWCSI proposes that instead of purchasing new land to build on, the new construction could take place on the current Woodburn Elementary School site, which the BOA already mostly owns. The benefits of this proposal will far out-weigh the negatives.
The land use issues that are accompanied with this project include; smart growth, reduced dependency on automobiles, site-related LEED certification opportunities, site reuse, natural stormwater management, reduced building footprints, community connection, and connection to existing outdoor classrooms, and a variety of other issues. By examining both sites we will be able to determine the most sustainable, eco-friendly site of the two. Our project will focus on Infill development, smart growth, interactive learning opportunities for children and LEED opportunities.
Site selection of the infill development will strengthen the existing Woodburn neighborhood and capitalize on existing infrastructure, such as, sewer connections, electricity, utilities, roads, water, and other infrastructures. This design will also reduce suburban sprawl in the Morgantown area. This school constructed at the current Woodburn site has the ability to enrich and enhance the vitality of the Woodburn area.
We hope our solution to be a national model for a green school. We aspire to create a community based plan that represents the wants and needs of the local families by providing them with an interactive school within a safe environment for their children to learn not only general education but sustainable living as well. We hope our plan will represent a standard for other communities and local schools to follow. By keeping the Woodburn School at the existing site, a community connection will be established. The building of a LEED accredited consolidated school in this community would be the first step towards this process. The school would promote interactive learning for children, day lighting throughout the building the promote health and productivity, and its location would allow for community connectivity and promote a sense of place, creating a new Woodburn neighborhood.
“ A school should be a thought–built good–time place for happy children—with some light overhead, the school building should regard the children as a garden in the sun.”
Throughout the United States, many small rural towns and cities have been increasing in population. And incorporated within the increasing populations comes an increase in enrollment of local schools. Many of the schools first built in these towns and cities were constructed to hold a smaller number of students and the increase in population is filling up these schools at a rapid rate. Because of this reason, many schools are adding trailers and semi-permanent structures to hold the increase in enrollment.
The problem with this is that, these buildings break-up the look of the school and are usually under-prepared for daily classroom activities. Once enrollments surpass a certain number, the need for a new, larger school is ever present. This is where consolidation comes into play. As in the instance of Woodburn Elementary, many localities, parents and students do not want their schools consolidated. Consolidation of schools, usually require students and teachers to travel further distances to reach their destinations, which cause a variety of environmental problems. Increases in CO2 emissions from excessive car and bus travel, the presence of suburban sprawl, as the schools leave the city center and move towards the edge of cities, residences and businesses will follow, from the city center to the city edge, where sprawling land can be found.
Another relevant issue that Woodburn Elementary is concerned with is the idea of adaptive reuse. Adaptive reuse is the process of adapting old structures for purposes other than those initially intended. When the original use of a structure changes or is no longer required, the opportunity is presented to change the primary function of the structure, while retaining the existing architectural details that make the building unique. Adaptive reuse can cover a wide range of uses, urban areas, and building types and is a major factor in land conservation and reducing the amount of sprawl associated with the outcomes of consolidation.
Similar to the concepts of smart growth, it is more efficient and environmentally sound to redevelop older buildings closer to urban cores, with historic preservation a key issue related to the field. Adaptive reuse ideas and designs can be found throughout the world. Many buildings from the industrial revolution, such as mills, factories, warehouses, etc. once used as points for industrial production is now used as a selling-point for residential homes, retail, office, and tourist destinations. Pratt Street Power Plant in Baltimore, Maryland, United States, is located on the Inner Harbor and was once a hub for industry is now converted into retail, restaurants, and offices.
The Woodburn neighborhood is also concentrated with uses of smart growth within the neighborhood. This theory creates compact walkable urban centers that reduce the need for sprawl. Smart growth also advocates transit-oriented, bicycle-friendly, complete streets, as well as neighborhood schools and mixed-use development.
The ten accepted principles that define Smart Growth include; Mix land uses, take advantage of compact building design, create a range of housing opportunities and choices, create walkable neighborhoods, foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place, preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas, strengthen and direct development towards existing communities, provide a variety of transportation choices, make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective, and finally, encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions.
Smart growth has been around since the 1970s, but it hasn’t caught on as a national model until recently. These principles encompass a majority of the design goals and objectives that we implemented into our project, in the program development sections. Many of these concepts have been around for centuries and will continue to play an important role in the concept of Traditional Neighborhood Development.
As the populations of cities and towns throughout the country and world continue to increase the concerns of consolidation and dilapidated infrastructure are ever present. Frank Lloyd Wright is quoted as saying, “A school should be a thought–built good–time place for happy children—with some light overhead, the school building should regard the children as a garden in the sun.” Unfortunately, this view of the school building and construction is not shared by all designers. Far too often, the opening of a new school will take place in a rural community and in an even more rural site. Schools are moving further and further away from the city center and this is causing a variety of problems. Increased vehicular transportation, suburban sprawl, and unimaginative school and site design are just a few of the major problems caused when a large, sprawling one-story school is constructed.
The further away a school is located from its students require more bussing and travel time. It also eliminates the possibility of walking or riding a bicycle to the school everyday, which is not only a great form of exercise but is also a huge step in eliminating CO2 emissions. The distance from the city center to the rural school will contribute to suburban sprawl with the addition of new communities and housing throughout the areas that contain plots of land suitable for development, in between the two. The cities exterior limits will now extend all the way to the school campus. Another problem is the unimaginative design of these schools. Children spend the majority of their early life within elementary schools and it is noted that a majority of people spend almost 90 percent of everyday inside a building. This being the case, a school design should be inviting and make its occupants enjoy spending time within the interior. A cold and uninviting building decreases its occupant’s productivity and increases the amount of absences a year.
Our site, in the Woodburn neighborhood, has the potential to develop these challenges, as well as storm water management techniques, historical preservation, infill development and community connectivity. If the consolidation of Woodburn and Easton Elementary takes place, these problems will be sure to arise. To fully understand our site, we focused on case studies of urban schools located within dense city areas. We also focused on schools that incorporated additions which preserved the historical façade and blended within its existing community. Successful case studies helped our progression to a defined solution to our problem, while unsuccessful case studies steered us away from solutions that were lacking.
We have incorporated a variety of innovative techniques and solutions that we feel would lead the existing Woodburn Elementary to an acceptable status as a community oriented school, that would promote environmental stewardship, urban infill and redevelopment, and maintain a historical connection to the neighborhood that the school has served for over 100 years.
Our mission is to redesign the current Woodburn Elementary School site, by providing an intelligent and imaginative school site selection and design. We plan to integrate our design with surrounding natural elements. Doing so will provide sufficient space for a school building, interactive educational facilities, a strong connection to nature, and integration with existing structures – while maintaining an adaptive reuse of the current site with low impact construction methods. Thus, a visual and cultural connection will be established within the Woodburn community, while showing respect for the local heritage and environment. The end result will produce a natural campus, for Woodburn Elementary, which encourages sustainable education.
Our first goal is to establish a creative school campus reflective of the local history and culture. The objectives used to reach this goal will include the design of a school building that has a capacity for at least 450 students. The building layout will take advantage of the surrounding topography and site conditions, amenities, utilities, and culture, as well as other factors. We will also provide a low maintenance, native planting design on campus and outdoor classroom areas that can accommodate a full-class of students.
The second goal of our design is to create interactive educational and recreational opportunities throughout the site. To achieve these opportunities, we plan to allow for the architectural design of the building and the landscape elements of the site to provide and support student oriented interactive learning opportunities. Green building features will be implements into the design, in the forms of green roofs, water management techniques, and educational gardens that will provide hands-on educational opportunities for students. A variety of stimulating toys, playground equipment, and other amenities will integrate recreational opportunities with educational opportunities.
Creating an integrated and environmentally sensitive design is our third goal of the project. By creating a theme for the playground and surrounding campus areas the site will establish a sense of place and connectivity within the neighborhood. We plan to protect and enhance the quality views found on and off-site by highlighting the views with appropriate view sheds. Environmentally safe and friendly playground equipment will be used to highlight environmental stewardship, creative play, and a variety of other experiences.
Our fourth goal is to create a stronger connection between Woodburn Elementary and the surrounding Woodburn neighborhood. By enhancing the pedestrian connectivity and safety throughout the neighborhood and school campus will allow easy-access to and from the school. Limiting the amount of vehicular traffic through the campus and limiting the amount of parking and the use of on-street parking will promote safety in the neighborhood. By using the school for multiple purposes, such as a small-scale neighborhood event center will bring in the general public to the school.
MISSION STATEMENT Our project is to redesign the current Woodburn Elementary School site, by providing an intelligent and imaginative school site selection and design. We plan to integrate our design with surrounding natural elements. Doing so will provide sufficient space for a school building, interactive educational facilities, a strong connection to nature, and integration with existing structures – while maintaining an adaptive reuse of the current site with low impact construction methods. Thus, a visual and cultural connection will be established within the Woodburn community, while showing respect for the local heritage and environment . The end result will produce a natural campus, for Woodburn Elementary, which encourages sustainable education . GOALS 1 Creative school campus 2 Interactive opportunities 3 Unified design 4 Establish community connection Scope
We have worked throughout this project along the guidelines set forth by ourselves in the previous semester. Major phases are categorized and subsequently explored to fully develop each phase.
Our first phase, this included site visits, subsequent inventorying, development of a workflow, topical research, local immersion in the real life issue, and the development of a comprehensive analysis at the completion of this phase.
In this phase we first mapped out our thoughts, then began to develop functional diagrams depicting the spatial relationships between the different usages. From there we superimposed those diagrams onto our site and began moving them around to correlate to the site. After our conceptual layout was established, we developed conceptual designs that built on the surrounding sense of place . At the conclusion of our concepts, we designed a preliminary master plan that incorporated all of our designed elements.
In the final phase, we first derived our master plan from our comprehensive analysis and preliminary design. From there we were able to then create support drawings, design details, and our presentations.
The Woodburn community, in which the school is located, was originally farmland on the eastern hills of downtown Morgantown with its borders being defined by Richwood Avenue and Willey Street. A majority of the streets, in the neighborhood, were named after family farms. During the early 20th century, a population boom saw an influx of Welsh tinsmiths who came to work at the tinplate mill, which was the Sterling Faucet plant, in Sabraton. The neighborhood grew so rapidly that a trolley car system was established to connect the workers in Woodburn to the mill in Sabraton.
The slope analysis of our site was one of the most important aspects of our analysis phase. Woodburn Elementary is located on a south-facing slope, with a majority of the site sitting on a shallow ridgeline. The site changes in elevation from 1100 feet at the crest of the ridge to almost 1000 feet at the lowest part of the site. Slope percentages on the site reach above 25% in some locations making some areas difficult for development. However, the site does have several areas with a 0-4% slope range which would be ideal for any type of development.
The circulation analysis of the school and surrounding site highlighted the main vehicular roadways around and through the site. The analysis also focuses on pedestrian connectivity linking the school to the neighborhood. An existing drop-off and pick-up area is highlighted and will be examined later in the design process.
A hydrology and existing vegetation analysis was needed to determine storm water runoff for our runoff catchment area. The existing vegetation was taken into consideration and was left alone as much as possible. The hydrology analysis also helped us during our design of the site by avoiding low points that collect water and would prohibit some development and it allowed us
A climate analysis was taken into consideration by determining the direction of summer and winter winds that effect the site. Summer winds move northeast across the site, while winter winds travel southeast across the site. A sun diagram was completed to determine shadow patterns during specific times of the day, which aided our design of the schools additions by implementing passive solar orientation and day lighting techniques.
A variety of view sheds on and off site that are to be protected and enhanced were taken into consideration and analyzed for their possibilities. These views will be utilized by landscape framing, clearing out the obstructing vegetation, and elevating certain elevations.
Methodology and Process Look
Look Developable slopes Vehicular Circulation Mostly Flat slopes Undevelopable slopes Woodburn School Methodology and Process Composite Analysis
This is where we familiarized ourselves with pertinent literature, and case studies similar to our project in scope and size. The main case studies we focused on during this phase in our design process were the Thomas & Hazel Little Library Expansion at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky. We chose this case study because it incorporated our ideas of an existing building façade receiving no treatment, while the additions around the exiting building were constructed to play-off the old, classic, existing façade style. The other case study that provided us with a great deal of inspiration and design ideas was the kindergarten Barbapapa, located in Vignola, Italy. This vibrant kindergarten facility incorporates many of the building ideas we used in our design. Large windows for day lighting have been established, as well as, vibrant and attractive colors throughout the building used to hold the attention of the students.
Think Methodology and Process Thomas & Hazel Little Library Expansion Eastern Kentucky University · Richmond, KY kindergarten Barbapapà Vignola, Italy
Following some stern research on school design, we then literally mapped out our design ideas.
We first began by looking back out the history of our site and finding tangible ideas that could influence physical forms in design. By “casting many lines” we were able to generate multiple ideas and pick and choice which would be best suited for our site.
Among the most prevalent ideas to us were the farming, Welsh heritage, trolley, and the farming aspect. What made these choices stand out was their ability as abstract ideas to easily represent physical forms with ease – such as when you tell someone to picture themselves on a farm, its easy to imagine crop rows, a linear design element.
Upon gathering many ideas, we began to refine the ones we selected as more suitable to our site. Dragons seemed to be a very playful idea for children, as I recall one of my favorite Disney stories “The Reluctant Dragon.” At this point we began to realize actual site features, as the trolley showed us potential for a drop-off shelter, and the farm as a general layout structure.
Our program development was created after we utilized the previous information and decided on the direction for our project solution. The program focused on the creation of a community-connected elementary school that would offer interactive opportunities for its students. By engaging students with entertaining options that also double as educational tool. Once we figured out the direction of our program we were able to incorporate the needed facilities into the site and create relationship diagrams that showed us the most effective positioning of all facilities needed on the site. After a number of relationship diagrams were completed and the best possible orientation was found, we then constructed functional diagrams that located the facilities into general locations within the project site. A variety of these were completed and the most logical and feasible outcome was selected. Once these diagrams were completed and the facilities were in order, we then took all of the information and combined it with a composite analysis that showed us where the most suitable areas for development would occur. The preliminary design was formed from multiple layovers of transparencies from the diagrams and inventories. After careful review of the previous documentation and a thorough analysis of the relationship and functional diagrams, we focused on the positives and negatives of all information and created a conceptual master plan that was a bit more refined then the site-related functional diagrams. The collections of all our project elements were arranged in the best possible and most realistic formation that served the needs of the site and the occupants.
The conceptual master plan was further refined, with the surrounding land uses identified and one residence being removed so the facilities arrangement would have a more cohesive fit and feel.
The preliminary master plan furthered the refinement from the conceptual master plan. The additions were placed adjacent to the existing school, as well as outdoor classrooms and a variety of playgrounds depending on the students’ age and grade. Historic trolley stations offered architectural examples on how to build a new “historic” feature. The existing façade was reworked to a new design, while we implemented storm water infiltration areas, a community park, and a giant forsythia maze on the hillside. The large playground was designed to allow for basketball, kickball, 4square, jump-rump, and open play, while mimicking aerial topography of farmland. Dragons were used as the school mascot as well as developed for play structures.
Think Methodology and Process Trolley-style bus drop-off Farmland playground Façade design Dragon play structure
The Woodburn neighborhood has had a rich, fruitful and long history. Originally the neighborhood was home to small hillside farmsteads, but an increase in population of the area occurred at the beginning of the 20th century, because of the close proximity of parklands, a close proximity to downtown Morgantown, a community atmosphere, and the nearby school, as well as an influx of Welsh immigrants coming to work at the tinplate mill in Sabraton. The neighborhood quickly grew and harbored strong Welsh traditions with many of the original farmhouses still standing. Woodburn Elementary was the neighborhood school that held a strong central core of the neighborhood and was constructed in 1910. Since 1910, Woodburn Elementary has been the centrally located neighborhood school. Many of the students that attend Woodburn Elementary live within walking distance to the school.
With the proposed consolidation of Woodburn hanging in the balance, many Woodburn residents and parents of students at the elementary are outraged that the county is doing away with a historic building that has been in operation for over a century. The strong connection that Woodburn Elementary has established with the surrounding neighborhood is a bond that took over 100 years to achieve, and by consolidating the elementary, the neighborhood is at risk of collapsing, without its central anchor.
For our design, we focused on a variety of aspects, but one of our main goals was to establish an addition onto the existing school, that would not take away from, as well as enhance the existing historical façade. In order to do this, we focused on a variety of façade treatments and styles. We incorporated the historical façade into a smooth transition to the building additions by using similar materials, such as, limestone blocks, brick, concrete, and glass treatments. This allowed us to maintain the historical feeling that has been in the neighborhood for over 100 years, while adding a new modern twist into the design, creating a sense of “the old, while incorporating the new.”
Overall, the site design meets the basic necessities that a new elementary school would need. The bus drop-off has been redesigned to accommodate for a better flow of traffic, additional spaces for bus “stacking”, and drop-off shelters have been added into the final design. Parent drop-off and faculty parking have been added behind the existing school building with sufficient parking for all employees. Drop-off shelters have also been incorporated into this area as well. The drop-off shelters are based-off a design from the trolley car stations that were present in the area in the early 1900s and similar construction materials were used for the existing building and the shelters.
ADA ramps, sidewalks, and steps have been incorporated around the entire site and allow for pedestrian movement throughout the school campus. We established an interactive connection by implementing educational and hands-on gardens that students can participate in and take care of. A rooftop garden and a rooftop playground, for grades K-2, have also been implemented onto the site. These areas were placed on the rooftop with the addition of safety fences and walls to prevent injuries. They were placed on the rooftop because of lack of sufficient space on the campus grounds, and create a sense of mystery for the children. An exterior courtyard extends to an outside playground to the west of the existing school site. This large playground area, for grades 2-5, contains a full-sized, rubberized basketball court and large, open lawn area, both used for a variety of play. Naturalized landscaping has been introduced throughout the site with native plantings that are easy to maintain, and provide interesting aesthetic qualities year round, and are child friendly and interactive.
The final design aspect of the project includes a storm water treatment landscape at the lowest part of the site; runoff from the entire site is collected and transferred to the treatment area through a series of pipes and exits through a visually appealing razor-cut water feature that passes the water into infiltration areas and allows for a slow recharge of the water-table.