Bear Road Elementary

Elementary School

Location:  Syracuse, NY

Completed:  2022

Program: K-4 Classrooms, Specialty Classrooms, Collaborative Project Spaces, Library, Cafeteria, Gymnasium and Administrative spaces.

Construction Type: Addition & Renovation

Bear Road Elementary School, originally constructed in the late 1950s with an early 1960s addition forming the courtyard, had gone nearly 70 years without renovation. Its building systems, envelope, and finishes had exceeded their lifespan. The layout featured a long ‘dead-end’ corridor isolating classrooms, an underutilized courtyard, and traffic congestion on Bear Road, posing safety risks. Insufficient kindergarten classrooms and limited space for music and art were evident. The traditional layout hindered modern teaching methods with cramped classrooms and limited interaction.

A comprehensive planning process, including teacher surveys and workshops, revealed an opportunity to enhance the courtyard layout. Repurposing the ‘dead-end’ corridor as a prominent entrance, accommodating a bus loop and public functions, resolved security concerns. Kindergarten rooms were expanded adjacent to the gym and cafeteria, while 1st-4th grade classrooms were clustered around the courtyard with flexible spaces for group activities. Transparent elements like glazed walls promoted visibility and connectivity.

Energy efficiency was paramount, with full energy modeling guiding system and envelope decisions. Intensive envelope commissioning ensured performance. The building achieved net-zero energy readiness, reducing energy use intensity from 102 to 29.8 btu/sf/year.

Overall, the revitalized Bear Road Elementary School reflects a modern, sustainable learning environment, promoting collaboration and safety while meeting energy efficiency goals.