Through the language of architecture, the school is designed to facilitate an understanding of the physical and social context of Poquoson and its relationship to the larger world. As such, the school and site are designed as a procession from the city to the water.

The city of Poquoson is located on the eastern tip of Virginia’s lower Peninsula. Poquoson is surrounded by major water features on three of four sides. The area has 84 miles of shoreline and 5,089 acres of wetlands, including Plum Tree Island Marsh—the largest saline marsh in the lower Chesapeake Bay. In the fall of 2003, the hurricane Isabel flooded much of the city of Poquoson, including the existing upper elementary school. To meet the growing needs of the school system and avoid future issues with flooding, the city immediately made plans to build a new school.

A new elementary school was designed for the city and scheduled to open in the fall of 2008. The 80,000 square foot school now houses the third through fifth grades and can be expanded to include the sixth grade in the future. The school is located on a 22-acre site occupied by the former upper elementary school (which was demolished) and the existing middle school. Like most of Poquoson, the site is in the FEMA 100-year flood plain, approximately 6 feet above sea level. Though this presented some challenges for the new building, the relationship of the site to the water also offered some interesting opportunities.

Together with the new building, the existing wetlands at the back of the site provide an opportunity to create a unique learning environment, provide public access to the water and create a civic space in relation to the amazing resource that is the Chesapeake Bay.

The city of Poquoson is located on the eastern tip of Virginia’s lower Peninsula. Poquoson is surrounded by major water features on three of four sides. The area has 84 miles of shoreline and 5,089 acres of wetlands, including Plum Tree Island Marsh—the largest saline marsh in the lower Chesapeake Bay. In the fall of 2003, the hurricane Isabel flooded much of the city of Poquoson, including the existing upper elementary school. To meet the growing needs of the school system and avoid future issues with flooding, the city immediately made plans to build a new school.

A new elementary school was designed for the city and scheduled to open in the fall of 2008. The 80,000 square foot school now houses the third through fifth grades and can be expanded to include the sixth grade in the future. The school is located on a 22-acre site occupied by the former upper elementary school (which was demolished) and the existing middle school. Like most of Poquoson, the site is in the FEMA 100-year flood plain, approximately 6 feet above sea level. Though this presented some challenges for the new building, the relationship of the site to the water also offered some interesting opportunities.

Together with the new building, the existing wetlands at the back of the site provide an opportunity to create a unique learning environment, provide public access to the water and create a civic space in relation to the amazing resource that is the Chesapeake Bay.

Public and community use spaces (media center, cafeteria / commons, and gymnasium) are grouped together and separated from the main body of the school by the administration. The educational spaces are organized around “grade houses”, smaller communities of 225 students.
Public and community use spaces (media center, cafeteria / commons, and gymnasium) are grouped together and separated from the main body of the school by the administration. The educational spaces are organized around “grade houses”, smaller communities of 225 students.

Through the language of architecture, the school is designed to facilitate an understanding of the physical and social context of Poquoson and its relationship to the larger world. As such, the school and site are designed as a procession from the city to the water.

Public and community use spaces (media center, cafeteria / commons, and gymnasium) are grouped together and separated from the main body of the school by the administration. The educational spaces are organized around “grade houses”, smaller communities of 225 students. The classrooms are an atypical “fat-L” configuration that provides separate, but connected spaces for a variety of learning environments. Ten classrooms (and associated resource and service spaces) are organized around a double-height group education / break-out area—an educational “living room” for each grade. The educational space extends into the landscape surrounding the school, including outdoor classrooms (one per grade house), themed play areas, educational signage, learning gardens, constructed wetlands, and a boardwalk extending out to a wetland lab. The building is designed for high academic and building performance, with special attention paid to daylighting, acoustics, thermal comfort, water efficiency, and energy efficiency. The building received a LEED GOLD certification by the United States Green Building Council.

Through the language of architecture, the school is designed to facilitate an understanding of the physical and social context of Poquoson and its relationship to the larger world. As such, the school and site are designed as a procession from the city to the water.

Public and community use spaces (media center, cafeteria / commons, and gymnasium) are grouped together and separated from the main body of the school by the administration. The educational spaces are organized around “grade houses”, smaller communities of 225 students. The classrooms are an atypical “fat-L” configuration that provides separate, but connected spaces for a variety of learning environments. Ten classrooms (and associated resource and service spaces) are organized around a double-height group education / break-out area—an educational “living room” for each grade. The educational space extends into the landscape surrounding the school, including outdoor classrooms (one per grade house), themed play areas, educational signage, learning gardens, constructed wetlands, and a boardwalk extending out to a wetland lab. The building is designed for high academic and building performance, with special attention paid to daylighting, acoustics, thermal comfort, water efficiency, and energy efficiency. The building received a LEED GOLD certification by the United States Green Building Council.

Public and community use spaces (media center, cafeteria / commons, and gymnasium) are grouped together and separated from the main body of the school by the administration. The educational spaces are organized around “grade houses”, smaller communities of 225 students.
Public and community use spaces (media center, cafeteria / commons, and gymnasium) are grouped together and separated from the main body of the school by the administration. The educational spaces are organized around “grade houses”, smaller communities of 225 students.

Client: Poquoson City Public Schools

Location: Poquoson, VA

Discipline: Primary & Elementary Schools

Completion: 2008

Size: 82,000 SF New Construction