Innovative teaching techniques combine with a sustainable building to provide opportunities not found in traditional school construction. Spaces are tailored to accommodate the innovative ‘parallel block’ academic system used by Manassas Park.

The City of Manassas Park, Virginia has ambitiously expanded their existing lower elementary school campus. A new 10,500 gsf Pre-Kindergarten serves 70 students, including special-needs individuals. The 121,200 gsf Upper School houses up to 875 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students. Instructional spaces are tailored for programs in academics, fitness, and visual & musical arts.

This project unites the existing lower school and historic Camp Carondelet via two new buildings that weave together existing resources. The Pre-K spaces are sized for 4 & 5 year olds, including a 4 foot high ‘entrance door’ and window reading nooks oriented to the adjacent Camp. The Camp is fully woven into the Upper School’s architectural layout, maximizing the educational and recreational opportunities.

Each room name is themed after a local animal or plant. The three academic ‘houses’ are articulated as Summer, Fall or Spring via room signage, wayfinding techniques and color schemes. The hallways of each academic house are lined with a random pattern of clear finished Poplar, Cherry, Ash, Maple, Red Oak and White Oak vertical planks mixed with full length mirrors – giving the student the effect of walking in the woods.

Innovative teaching techniques combine with a sustainable building to provide opportunities not found in traditional school construction. Spaces are tailored to accommodate the innovative ‘parallel block’ academic system used by Manassas Park. All students receive large and small group instruction in language, arts and math, while full time specialists teach science and social studies. Instead of separating the 3rd, 4th & 5th graders into the three ‘houses’ of the building, each student is assigned to a house for the full three years. This allows a smaller number of teachers to build a multi-year relationship with a smaller number of students.

Teaching extends outdoors with two courtyards. Ramp access allows the top of the cistern to double as an outdoor classroom - equipped with a colorful rain gauge and large scale graphics explaining the hydrologic system and the impact of rainwater harvesting.

The City of Manassas Park, Virginia has ambitiously expanded their existing lower elementary school campus. A new 10,500 gsf Pre-Kindergarten serves 70 students, including special-needs individuals. The 121,200 gsf Upper School houses up to 875 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students. Instructional spaces are tailored for programs in academics, fitness, and visual & musical arts.

This project unites the existing lower school and historic Camp Carondelet via two new buildings that weave together existing resources. The Pre-K spaces are sized for 4 & 5 year olds, including a 4 foot high ‘entrance door’ and window reading nooks oriented to the adjacent Camp. The Camp is fully woven into the Upper School’s architectural layout, maximizing the educational and recreational opportunities.

Each room name is themed after a local animal or plant. The three academic ‘houses’ are articulated as Summer, Fall or Spring via room signage, wayfinding techniques and color schemes. The hallways of each academic house are lined with a random pattern of clear finished Poplar, Cherry, Ash, Maple, Red Oak and White Oak vertical planks mixed with full length mirrors – giving the student the effect of walking in the woods.

Innovative teaching techniques combine with a sustainable building to provide opportunities not found in traditional school construction. Spaces are tailored to accommodate the innovative ‘parallel block’ academic system used by Manassas Park. All students receive large and small group instruction in language, arts and math, while full time specialists teach science and social studies. Instead of separating the 3rd, 4th & 5th graders into the three ‘houses’ of the building, each student is assigned to a house for the full three years. This allows a smaller number of teachers to build a multi-year relationship with a smaller number of students.

Teaching extends outdoors with two courtyards. Ramp access allows the top of the cistern to double as an outdoor classroom - equipped with a colorful rain gauge and large scale graphics explaining the hydrologic system and the impact of rainwater harvesting.

Innovative teaching techniques combine with a sustainable building to provide opportunities not found in traditional school construction. Spaces are tailored to accommodate the innovative ‘parallel block’ academic system used by Manassas Park.
Innovative teaching techniques combine with a sustainable building to provide opportunities not found in traditional school construction. Spaces are tailored to accommodate the innovative ‘parallel block’ academic system used by Manassas Park.

“When people tell me they want to build a great green school, I tell them the first thing they need to do is pay a visit to Manassas Park Elementary School.”

– Rachel Gutter Director, Center for Green Schools, US Green Building Council
Innovative teaching techniques combine with a sustainable building to provide opportunities not found in traditional school construction. Spaces are tailored to accommodate the innovative ‘parallel block’ academic system used by Manassas Park.
Innovative teaching techniques combine with a sustainable building to provide opportunities not found in traditional school construction. Spaces are tailored to accommodate the innovative ‘parallel block’ academic system used by Manassas Park.
Innovative teaching techniques combine with a sustainable building to provide opportunities not found in traditional school construction. Spaces are tailored to accommodate the innovative ‘parallel block’ academic system used by Manassas Park.
Innovative teaching techniques combine with a sustainable building to provide opportunities not found in traditional school construction. Spaces are tailored to accommodate the innovative ‘parallel block’ academic system used by Manassas Park.

Client: Manassas Park City Schools

Location: Manassas Park, VA

Discipline: Primary & Elementary Schools, Early Education, Sustainable Design

Completion: 2009

Size: 131,700 GSF / New Construction

Key Team Members

Awards Received

2016 First Place Academic Project
Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Awards

2011 Shirley Cooper Award
American Association of School Administrators (AASA)

2010 Award for Excellence in Architecture
AIA Virginia

2010 COTE Award Winner
AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE)

2010 Educational Facility Design Award
AIA Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE)

2010 Grand Prize Award
Learning by Design

2010 Honor Award
AIA Central Virginia

2010 Juror's Favorite Award for New Construction
James River Green Building Council (JRGBC)

Best of 2009- K-12 Project of the Year (Mid-Atlantic Region)
Mid Atlantic Construction Magazine

2009 Distinguished Design Award- Platinum Level
Virginia School Boards Association