BEECHER HILLS ELEMENTARY SCHOOLAtlanta, Georgia
INNOVATIVE, COLORFUL AND COLLABORATIVE-CENTRIC SPACES
Atlanta Public Schools
2020 Project Achievement Award
CMAA South Atlantic Chapter
Sixty-year-old Beecher Hills Elementary School, a Pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade elementary school in the Cascade Community located west of downtown Atlanta, required a renovation updating the administration area, media center, computer lab, cafeteria and classrooms and adding a gymnasium. The school’s original design consisted of natural ventilation and active openness followed by a series of expansions and modifications that changed its operation and complicated the internal organization of the building. The school’s location rests on a heavily wooded site within an established neighborhood that adjoined to a nature preserve that also serves as a trail launching point connected to the Atlanta Beltline.
BRPH’s design team was challenged to identify an optimal location for the expansion on a constrained site while improving core operational spaces and circulation. By strategically placing the gymnasium on the steeply sloping hill behind the school, the BRPH’S design team took advantage of the sloping topography by locating the gymnasium at a lower level. This provided design opportunities for a monumental stair and viewing balcony overlooking the gym through corridors that surround the school’s media center.
Internal designs relocated the cafeteria to the front of the building increasing exposure to natural light. A reconfiguration of existing spaces enhanced entry security and improved administration and teacher support areas by placing them centrally. The new internal circulation aligned the cafeteria with the media center and gymnasium, making these the “Heart and Hub” of the school which created the organization and central meeting space the school needed to bring a coherent function to all classroom areas. A new covered entrance and secured lobby space enhances the school’s entryway aesthetics.