Glencairn Elementary School

  • area / size 50,800 sqft
  • Completed 2019
  • GMB Architecture + Engineering focused on modernization when completing Glencairn Elementary School in East Lansing, Michigan.

    As part of a $93.7 million bond issue, Glencairn Elementary School is the first of five new elementary buildings for East Lansing Public Schools. The goal across all these new buildings is to create 21st century learning environments where students and staff enjoy learning and educating. The design intentionally looks at the connections to the outdoors, both from a visual and physical perspective. Sloping and undulating roof forms tie to the residential areas where the buildings are located, with smaller scale in consideration of the close proximity of houses in the neighborhoods. With a large percentage of students that walk and bike to school, pedestrian and bike safety and separation from vehicular traffic was a goal in the design of the site.

    Sustainability is a key component in the engineering and construction, and the buildings were designed with flexibility and future additions in mind. Sustainability strategies such as geothermal heating and cooling, solar panel installations and providing the infrastructure for dishwashing equipment to replace throw-away serving items with reusable trays were all considered. From an interior design perspective, the buildings are organized similarly in that the special programming and common areas – art, music, gymnasium, cafeteria, and media center – are all visible from the primary street to put learning on display in a more transparent way for the community. Classrooms feature varying degrees of connectivity and flexibility to allow for various-sized group, collaborative, and individual teaching and learning.

    The idea of the new elementary buildings being neighborhood schools and avoiding appearing institutional was at the core of the design. The simple organization of the program allows for both clear circulation through the building and views to natural light from every part of the building. At the heart of each building is a courtyard space directly adjacent to the cafeteria and main circulation corridor, providing a direct connection to the outdoors and the educational programming that is taking place in that space.

    Design: GMB Architecture + Engineering
    Photography: Jason Keen