This 23,000 square foot K-5 elementary magnet school partners with the University of South Carolina to provide a unique “small school” community serving 264 children. Sited adjacent to an existing middle school, the District directed the design team to establish a cohesive campus with the two structures. A central, flexible multi-purpose space known as the Gathering Room is the heart of the school, formed by clustering classrooms in a compact arrangement around this high bay, day-lit space. Inspired by the teachers and students attachment to an outdoor amphitheatre next to their temporary campus, the design team chose to use nature as a metaphor in developing the interiors. The Gathering Room is the most significant example. The steel structure was quietly modified into abstract “trees” through the use of additional tube members welded onto the main columns to resemble branches and translucent panels representing “leaves” add color and texture to the space. Special casework anchors the translucent panels and greatly adds to the flexibility of use by incorporating art and music supplies, PE storage, and a modest book collection. As the central feature of this school, physically and spiritually, this welcoming space provides the sense of community the school was seeking.
All Images ©Rion Rizzo - Creative Sources Photography