Sorg Architects' major challenge in designing the new Cresthaven Elementary School was in how to accommodate the client's program for a new 500-student facility on a steeply sloping, irregularly shaped, 10-acre site. Instead of allowing the difficult topography to the west of the site to become a barrier, Sorg reimagined the site plan to simultaneously maximize site utilization, program efficiency, and sustainable design goals and provide a dramatically improved learning environment.
The new 74,000 SF school undulates along the edge of the wooded slope, which has the effect of increasing building efficiency to conserve financial resources, heightening visibility for student and staff security purposes and providing outdoor circulation to encourage joint community use of the facility. The design allows all program elements to be accommodated comfortably on the site, while leaving room for future additions.
The organization of the building program itself encourages a flexible educational approach and greater connectivity to the surrounding environment. The floor plan is organized as a double-loaded corridor with public-use spaces, including the gymnasium, multi-purpose room, instructional media center, and administrative suite, located on the main floor, with academic classrooms on the upper and lower floors. The large academic program is accommodated by building three stories into the slope at the rear of the site, while the front of the school appears as a two-story form, so as not to overpower its low-scale residential neighborhood context.
Instead of focusing solely on minimizing the environmental impact of the building, the design is focused on creating a healthful and beneficial indoor environment for learning through maximizing natural lighting of interior spaces. The new Cresthaven Elementary School is the first LEED Gold Elementary School constructed in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Awards: 2013, Brick in Architecture Award
2011, American School + University, Outstanding Designs: Elementary Schools