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Trevvett Elementary School

Henrico County, Virginia

Creative problem-solving renews neighborhood elementary school

Trevvett is a K-5, 500-student, 55,000 square foot, 1950s neighborhood school in the Lakeside area of Henrico County. ¬†Two subsequent additions in the 1960s and 1970s added classroom and interior basketball and play space. When we first met with the staff we were struck by the limitations of the administration to properly manage the “front door” of the school and the limited space afforded to the staff. They were obviously in need of additional space but didn’t have the budget for additions. After meeting with the staff, educational specialists, and County School officials, we were able to put together a plan to capture new space within the existing building footprint as part of the complete renovation of the existing facility. The opportunity to re-orient the school entrance to the bus drop-off area allowed this cost-efficient capture much needed existing interior space for a new administrative area and media center.

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The renovation also addressed daylighting in a systematic way through a new window system throughout the school. The existing teachers and administration had been living with a single-glazed strip windows with unit air conditioners perforating and vibrating the system. The only provision for controlling the sunlight and glare from all of this glazing were blinds and curtains, which remained shut in most rooms. We devised a four-point system that accomplished exterior solar shading, an interior lightshelf to bounce light from the clear high windows onto the ceiling, tinted, low-e vision glazing, and a tack-board surface with rigid insulation panels for greater thermal efficiency in the expansive window system. This was all done in a vernacular style fitting of the 1950s original building.

All new finishes – cabinets, carpet, flooring, paint – allowed the introduction of modern green materials and methods in to this mid-20th century school. We were careful to not paint to broad a brush over the school with its various styles and additions and took each portion on a case- by-case basis while applying the same logic and systems thinking. [singlepic=494,240,180,,right]For example, a small 1960s addition was quite a challenge with its existing eight foot high ceilings with no space for new ventilation systems or lighting. We devised an undulating ceiling system between beams that would allow modern uplighting, allowing better A/V viewing and less glare. We also, with our engineers, developed a pre-conditioned fresh air system that worked in conjunction with unit ventilators in each room, saving tons of energy and working in the limited mechanical spaces of this existing structure. New communications infrastructure and technologies have brought Trevvett into 21st century instructional technology and networking capabilities, while accessibility modifications and life safety updates have brought much of the building into conformance with contemporary codes.

Along with a gentle upgrade to the school’s exterior appearance, including a perforated stainless steel entrance marquee, we were able to solve many problems by turning them into opportunities for design, function, and environmental benefit, all of which benefit the learning, instruction and working taking place in this really cool little neighborhood campus.

Completed: 2004
Architect of Record: BCWH Architects
Project Manager/Designer: Scott Kyle, AIA, LC, LEED