Ludington Elementary School

  • area / size 154,820 sqft
  • Completed 2022
  • GMB Architecture + Engineering designed a consolidated space with dynamic learning opportunities at the Ludington Elementary School in Ludington, Michigan.

    Ludington Area School District was looking to consolidate their three elementary schools into one new, centralized facility due to aging buildings that would have required significant renovations. The existing buildings were over 50 years old, and not only did Ludington aim to bring the district into the 21st century, they took a forward-looking approach to push the envelope in facilities and classroom design for future teaching and learning models. As education continues to evolve, it was important for the design to be efficient and adaptable and provide a flexible place to inspire growth and stimulate education for the present and the future. The approach was to create more than a school building, but a learning ecosystem within the community.

    All of the shared amenities and special programs are organized along a center spine that connects all the smaller, grade-level centered neighborhoods together, creating a clear wayfinding path and circulation loop around the building. Through a planning and architectural design lens, the scale of every element and space was thoughtfully considered for the students and teachers inhabiting the building.

    We designed extended learning areas throughout the building so that learning can happen anywhere on campus. Students of every grade level are in close proximity to a variety of small and larger collaboration centers that feature age-appropriate amenities. These extended learning areas are also leveraged for intervention activities and student-centered developmental learning.

    Built-in nooks were designed within the walls outside the media center as well as window seats in the classrooms, presenting ways for students to find their niche in a big building and to provide that amenity for quiet/calm down/individual space within the classroom without taking up square footage. All the classroom wings connect immediately outside to the playground area from the extended learning areas, and the entire property is surrounded by forest, trails, and natural space. Each wing of the building provides a direct connection to the outdoors, buffered by a playground for safety and supervision, to encourage outdoor learning and play.

    The gym at Ludington Elementary is two full-sized gymnasiums with a divisible partition in it, allowing for multiple configurations and components that are unique at the elementary school level, including allowing the school to accommodate two different gym classes simultaneously, a requirement to capture all classes each week.

    This new facility creates a hub for the community, fostering inclusion and encouraging relationship building that promotes a sense of community pride. Large-volume spaces like the cafeteria and gym accommodate events outside of school hours and nestling the facility in the surrounding forest with bike trails, outdoor play areas, a disc golf course, and access to restrooms created an opportunity for the community to use the entire property like a park.

    Design: GMB Architecture + Engineering
    Construction Manager: The Christman Company
    Photography: Jason Keen