From Corporate Offices to Centers of Learning

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Changes in work patterns and population growth are leading to new types of schools Walking past 8000 Jones Branch Drive in Tysons Corner, it is easy to assume that offices occupy this regular, three-story building. Entering its light filled atrium, however, does not reveal a corporate lobby or water cooler talk, but a gathering space where hundreds of chattering students dart between classes and engage in extracurricular activities. Welcome to Basis Independent School, a new type of center for learning.     Basis Independent is a private K-12 school that sits within the 120,000 square feet of this former Tysons Corner office building. This renovation project was designed by the DC architecture firm Perkins Eastman with Gilbane as the design-build… Read more »

New Geometry for a New Era: Sligo Adventist Elementary School (1963), 8300 Carroll Avenue, Takoma Park

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Montgomery County in the mid-century era experienced great change. Montgomery was the fourth fastest growing county in the nation. The population grew from less than 90,000 in 1946 to nearly 580,000 by 1974. Change also came in the pace of life, as cars and new highways enabled ever increasing speeds, but also in the scale of the perceived environment, as space exploration made the universe seem to be the limit. A new era called for new building forms, made possible with innovative technologies. By the early 1960s, architects were experimenting with a variety of roof forms. The zigzag roof of the Sligo Adventist Elementary School must have been a striking contrast to the traditional flat roof schools that had been… Read more »

Round School

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The Bushey Drive Elementary School, in Wheaton, is a three-story, round school designed by Deigert and Yerkes in 1961.     As noted in my colleague’s recent post on round houses, round schools were also promoted for lower operating costs, greater efficiency, and lower building costs.  In this era, round and hexagonal schools were built across the country.  In plan, the school had a middle story with common rooms (kitchen, library, general purpose room) and offices, sandwiched between top and bottom floors of classrooms. David Norton Yerkes and Robert C. Deigert were partners in a Washington DC firm from about 1946 to 1966.   In Montgomery County, projects designed by the firm include numerous custom houses and the Primary Day School in… Read more »