Ivan G Smith Elementary School

Smith Elementary boasts a robust arts and music program, where students express ideas and emotions as they develop creative thinking and problem-solving skills. The building integrates these creativity-focused courses with space for separated and combined learning as well as breakout and small group areas for the project-based curriculum. Safety concerns required a compact floor plan with generous sightlines and easily accessible after-hours spaces – all on a site with a distinct slope.

The result is a direct architectural expression of the school’s unique creative arts program. A split-level design solution weaves the school’s distinctive commons into a compact floor plan with generous sightlines and easily accessible after-hours spaces. Students enter through the soaring lobby; a welcoming and bright space as they prepare for their day of learning. The wide, gently curved corridor is flanked by folding glass partitions highlighting music and art rooms. Arriving at the central axis, the building divides with views into the Learning Commons and STEAM lab. These shared areas celebrate the creative pedagogy by displaying projects and performances.

Expansive ‘learning corridor’ hallways (breakout spaces for when the project-based learning requires more room than even the spacious classrooms can hold) are visually clear, functional and engaging with acoustic linoleum flooring creating distinct zones. A two-sided stage connects the gymnasium and cafeteria for diverse events. Echoing the art-focused curriculum, sprawling graphics and distinctive colors and materials embellish throughout the school. Balancing out the very open and public glass partitioned areas, formal and informal breakout spaces and whimsical reading nooks abound in classrooms, stairwells and even in the bookstacks themselves. Partially contained Kindergarten and 5th grade wings group these classrooms together for educational programming focused on specific age groups.

Some drone footage courtesy of EDG Structural Engineers