In 1999, VMDO Architects was charged with replacing an aging, obsolete school with one that serves the learning process and maximizes educational space. These goals bore the concept of the “Learning Street.” In a sense, the Learning Street is the building’s circulation spine, but it also contains the school’s primary gathering spaces. Three classroom wings accommodating grades 3-5 attach to the Learning Street. This organizational layout creates an appropriate scale for elementary school students by setting off individual houses for each grade level. Seeking both economy and uniqueness, all of the classrooms wings are identical in footprint and arrangement, but they are “plugged” into the spine at different angles to create a unique identity for each grade.

The Learning Street provides access to many of the services a student might need; computer labs, library, cafeteria, media center, and social services. In creating this spine, traditional notions of what those places and spaces represented were challenged. For instance, the typical voluminous, noisy cafeteria so common in many schools was broken down into smaller dining rooms. This design functioned on a multi-purpose level; when the space isn’t being used for dining, it serves as small group break-out space, creating a more intimate setting for student-teacher interaction.

The open views created by the Learning Street not only provide abundant exposure to daylight, natural ventilation, and direct access to the outdoors, but it enhances safety, security, and accountability because teachers and administrators can see what is happening both within and among the wings.

In 1999, VMDO Architects was charged with replacing an aging, obsolete school with one that serves the learning process and maximizes educational space. These goals bore the concept of the “Learning Street.” In a sense, the Learning Street is the building’s circulation spine, but it also contains the school’s primary gathering spaces. Three classroom wings accommodating grades 3-5 attach to the Learning Street. This organizational layout creates an appropriate scale for elementary school students by setting off individual houses for each grade level. Seeking both economy and uniqueness, all of the classrooms wings are identical in footprint and arrangement, but they are “plugged” into the spine at different angles to create a unique identity for each grade.

The Learning Street provides access to many of the services a student might need; computer labs, library, cafeteria, media center, and social services. In creating this spine, traditional notions of what those places and spaces represented were challenged. For instance, the typical voluminous, noisy cafeteria so common in many schools was broken down into smaller dining rooms. This design functioned on a multi-purpose level; when the space isn’t being used for dining, it serves as small group break-out space, creating a more intimate setting for student-teacher interaction.

The open views created by the Learning Street not only provide abundant exposure to daylight, natural ventilation, and direct access to the outdoors, but it enhances safety, security, and accountability because teachers and administrators can see what is happening both within and among the wings.

The Learning Street provides access to many of the services a student might need; computer labs, library, cafeteria, media center, and social services. In creating this spine, traditional notions of what those places and spaces represented were challenged.
The Learning Street provides access to many of the services a student might need; computer labs, library, cafeteria, media center, and social services. In creating this spine, traditional notions of what those places and spaces represented were challenged.
The Learning Street provides access to many of the services a student might need; computer labs, library, cafeteria, media center, and social services. In creating this spine, traditional notions of what those places and spaces represented were challenged.

Client: Appomattox County Public Schools

Location: Appomattox, VA

Discipline: Primary & Elementary Schools

Completion: 2002

Size: 88,500 SF

Key Team Members

Awards Received

2004 Honor Award
Virginia Chapter of the Association for Learning Environments

2003 Award Winner
Virginia School Boards Association

2003 Honor Award
AIA Central Virginia