Smith Road Elementary

Location:  Syracuse, NY

Completed:  December 2011

Program:  Elementary School Classrooms, Media Center, Entry, Offices

Construction Type:  Addition and Renovation

Sustainability:   CHPS Verified Status

Originally built in 1956 with a 1960’s addition creating a courtyard, the Smith Road Elementary School had not been renovated for nearly 50 years.  It’s building systems, envelope and finishes were beyond their useful life and required significant maintenance to keep the building operable.  The original building had a long ‘dead-end’ corridor isolating classrooms, the courtyard was not easily accessible and under utilized, and the main entrance was screened from the site entrance by a protruding solid wall.  The building also lacked an adequate amount of classrooms to allow the District to provide full-day Kindergarten or provide dedicated music and art rooms.

Through an intensive planning process utilizing individual teacher surveys, department interviews, and multiple all-staff workshops; it became clear that the team had an opportunity to embrace and strengthen the existing courtyard parti, versus the typical knee-jerk response of adding another classroom wing.  Staff identified the Library as the heart of the building.  The design reinforces this idea by placing the expanded Library as the key feature within the courtyard and reorganizing all new and existing classrooms around it.  The dead-end corridor was well positioned to become the new and highly visible main entrance as well as a location to house the more ‘public’ functions of the building such as the main office, conference and counseling spaces.  The division of these functions from the academic core, along with a spacious and well lit secure entrance, solved pre-existing building security issues.  In place of the former main entrance and offices, the wing was expanded to provide properly sized Kindergarten Rooms.  Band, chorus and art also were given dedicated spaces. In total, nine new classrooms, a library addition and a new entrance were added to the existing building.

Creating an engaging and uplifting space for students, teachers and parents was a priority.  The two-tone exterior metal panels add an animated variety and movement to the buildings exterior.  The wings that create the courtyard are color-coded for compass bearings.  This concept is used on both the exterior and interior of the courtyard adding ‘pops’ of color, which help to activate and orient the internal spaces.

Sustainable design concepts including indoor air quality and energy efficiency were an integral part of the design through the use of displacement ventilation, automated daylight harvesting, and careful material and product selections.  In concert with replacing significant portions of the envelope and building systems, the building now operates 40{e8f9b1517f9e628380276bdcf9f982a3a1bdf757d4b31f04beed1cb86cde118b} more efficient than current NYS Energy Code.  While adding 12,000 SF of additions and central air conditioning, the building’s Energy Star EPA building score went up by nearly 40 points.  Finally 83{e8f9b1517f9e628380276bdcf9f982a3a1bdf757d4b31f04beed1cb86cde118b} of all construction waste was diverted from landfills.  At the completion of the project, Smith Road Elementary became only the second building in NYS to achieve CHPS Verified Status (independent review and approval process) and the 9th in New England.