Project File: Consolidating schools

Maplewood-Richmond Heights Elementary School, Richmond Heights, Mo., was conceived as a response to a series of public workshops in which the community was asked to consider the future of its district in light of aging facilities and rising operating costs. The community's recommendation was to divest two ineffective elementary schools and consolidate into one facility.

The $8.5 million, 64,000-square-foot facility was designed to house 500 students. The centerpiece of the school is the student media center and library. The media center features a large media and art collection, wireless Internet access, and a sunken kiva for storytelling and performance. Each side of the media center is flanked by a series of classroom pods, which include smart boards, wireless Internet, faculty bays, storage areas, and group workspace designed to encourage group projects and team teaching.

The community's desire to maintain its neighborhood schools also was involved in the facility's layout and exterior design. The scale of the building, along with the gables and decorative details, reflects the surrounding bungalow architecture and blends contextually within the neighborhood.

The school's extracurricular wing includes the gymnasium, cafeteria and performance stage. It is accessible to community members for after-school use and serves as a valuable resource.

The architects for this project are Bond Wolfe Architects and Architectural Design Resource (St. Louis).

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