These schools support educational goals and also welcome extended community use. The notion of “shared use” between students and community members at large is an important concept

VMDO is thrilled to be a part of the City of Richmond’s ambitious “Building the Best Richmond” initiative. The first phase of work includes a new high school and a new middle school, as well as two new elementary schools, both of which were recently opened with the design assistance of VMDO Architects.

Broad Rock Elementary School accommodates 650 students on an existing campus that previously held far fewer students. The new Oak Grove-Bellemeade Elementary School also accommodates 650 students, on the site of the former Bellemeade Elementary School. The Oak Grove-Bellemeade school shares its site with an existing Community Center, whose facilities are utilized for school purposes during the day in a reciprocal arrangement with the City’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities. Much care has been taken to design schools that encourage a sense of community among students and faculty.

The Broad Rock and Oak Grove-Bellemeade schools were designed for nearly identical architectural programs. A “kit of parts” approach to the design allowed the architects to employ best practices in designing prototypical components of the schools, while site-specific constraints provided opportunities to arrange these components in unique ways. The resulting creation includes two schools that befit their neighborhood contexts and are identifiable to the children as “their own school - unlike any other.”

VMDO is thrilled to be a part of the City of Richmond’s ambitious “Building the Best Richmond” initiative. The first phase of work includes a new high school and a new middle school, as well as two new elementary schools, both of which were recently opened with the design assistance of VMDO Architects.

Broad Rock Elementary School accommodates 650 students on an existing campus that previously held far fewer students. The new Oak Grove-Bellemeade Elementary School also accommodates 650 students, on the site of the former Bellemeade Elementary School. The Oak Grove-Bellemeade school shares its site with an existing Community Center, whose facilities are utilized for school purposes during the day in a reciprocal arrangement with the City’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities. Much care has been taken to design schools that encourage a sense of community among students and faculty.

The Broad Rock and Oak Grove-Bellemeade schools were designed for nearly identical architectural programs. A “kit of parts” approach to the design allowed the architects to employ best practices in designing prototypical components of the schools, while site-specific constraints provided opportunities to arrange these components in unique ways. The resulting creation includes two schools that befit their neighborhood contexts and are identifiable to the children as “their own school - unlike any other.”

These schools support educational goals and also welcome extended community use. The notion of “shared use” between students and community members at large is an important concept
These schools support educational goals and also welcome extended community use. The notion of “shared use” between students and community members at large is an important concept

These schools support educational goals and also welcome extended community use. The notion of “shared use” between students and community members at large is an important concept. These new schools are much too valuable to be used for only a portion of the day. Shared use invites parents and other community members into the schools to better understand the day-to-day workings and the importance of parent and community involvement in student success. Regular community use facilitates a sense of ownership among the Broad Rock and Oak Grove-Bellemeade neighborhoods. Architecturally, a strategy of layering was employed, giving students, visitors, and community members different levels of access to the interior spaces of the building, depending on the time of day.

The school sites contained existing school buildings that remained in session throughout construction. The new schools, therefore, were built on portions of existing campus that were not currently occupied. The existing sites’ shape and configuration added to the challenge of arranging the schools, playgrounds, bus loops, parking, and service areas in a suitable manner. This created a wonderful opportunity to connect the educational programs at the new elementary schools to their sites’ rich natural landscapes and the James River watershed via nature walks, outdoor classrooms, school gardens, learning laboratories, and indoor and outdoor educational signage.

Both schools have achieved LEED Gold certification through the USGBC's LEED for Schools rating system. Wherever possible, the schools utilize cost-effective sustainable design strategies. The buildings themselves are designed as teaching tools, utilizing transparent details and technology to reveal the inner workings of the school and illustrate concepts of environmental awareness and energy use.

These schools support educational goals and also welcome extended community use. The notion of “shared use” between students and community members at large is an important concept. These new schools are much too valuable to be used for only a portion of the day. Shared use invites parents and other community members into the schools to better understand the day-to-day workings and the importance of parent and community involvement in student success. Regular community use facilitates a sense of ownership among the Broad Rock and Oak Grove-Bellemeade neighborhoods. Architecturally, a strategy of layering was employed, giving students, visitors, and community members different levels of access to the interior spaces of the building, depending on the time of day.

The school sites contained existing school buildings that remained in session throughout construction. The new schools, therefore, were built on portions of existing campus that were not currently occupied. The existing sites’ shape and configuration added to the challenge of arranging the schools, playgrounds, bus loops, parking, and service areas in a suitable manner. This created a wonderful opportunity to connect the educational programs at the new elementary schools to their sites’ rich natural landscapes and the James River watershed via nature walks, outdoor classrooms, school gardens, learning laboratories, and indoor and outdoor educational signage.

Both schools have achieved LEED Gold certification through the USGBC's LEED for Schools rating system. Wherever possible, the schools utilize cost-effective sustainable design strategies. The buildings themselves are designed as teaching tools, utilizing transparent details and technology to reveal the inner workings of the school and illustrate concepts of environmental awareness and energy use.

These schools support educational goals and also welcome extended community use. The notion of “shared use” between students and community members at large is an important concept

“These new schools afford our students the opportunity to experience wonderful learning environments that are equipped with 21st century technology that will further promote student achievement and help our children to continue to excel. These schools are citadels of hope for the students, the families and the communities they serve.”

– Dr. Yvonne Brandon Richmond Public School Superintendent

Client: Richmond City Public Schools

Location: Richmond, VA

Discipline: Primary & Elementary Schools

Completion: 2013

Size: 90,000 GSF each