The project recognizes the positive social, ecological, and economic benefits of reinvesting and reusing community facilities and sites as well as capitalizing on the Buckingham community’s efforts to create new architecture for the County’s only K-5 campus.
The Buckingham County Training School, which operated from 1924 to 1953 near the current school site, was the first high school in the county for African American students. Eventually, the Training School dissolved, and the Carter G. Woodson High School for African Americans opened on the current project site in 1954. The legacy of the Carter G. Woodson High School, and its famous Virginia-born namesake, continues on in the title of the current primary and elementary schools – which, together, are known as the Carter G. Woodson Education Complex.
The specific overhaul of the site involved the renovation of the 1954 high school building into an elementary school for grades 3-5, and the renovation of an abandoned 1962 elementary school into a primary school for grades K-2. Removal of the old high school cafeteria widened the central gap and provided the additional space needed to successfully create and share “one school” while also demarcating distinct entries and identities for primary and elementary school children.
The existing gap was reinvented to become the community center of the campus – programmatically, architecturally, and ecologically. This new addition situates shared communal learning spaces around an outdoor piazza, while an all-glass bridge frames important connections to the learning landscape beyond. Overall, this community re-investment increased space utilization to accommodate 1,000 students.
- The renovation capitalizes on a once underutilized site by incorporating the lush Virginia Piedmont forest into educational programming
- Communal kinetic spaces such as walking and biking paths prompt movement and interaction among the school community
- Signage and wayfinding techniques bring the outdoors in – featuring icons and images of native natural life that connect students to the natural world around them
- Technology is found throughout the schools’ shared-use spaces, where it has maximum impact on community users
- The health of the Buckingham community is being studied as part the healthy design guidelines