McGlone Elementary Learning Landscape

Project: Commercial
Location: Denver, CO
Services:
2010 EIL Award Winner. The DPS Learning Landscape Bond Program provides playground and park environments which renovate existing spaces dedicated to innovative and enhanced learning as well as improved recreational facilities for the school and the community.

The DPS Learning Landscape Bond Program provides playground and park environments which renovate existing spaces dedicated to innovative and enhanced learning as well as improved recreational facilities for the school and the community. Construction challenges included minimal disruption to the surrounding neighborhood, a restrictive site, and performing to a schedule that allowed for absolutely no extensions of time. The McGlone Elementary project focuses on the seasons and sets this property apart from all other locations and provides an identity for the school. The design included input from the neighbors, administration and staff to create an environment that encourages everyone to enjoy the outdoor experience of the Colorado seasons.

The DPS Learning Landscapes Bond Program provides playground and park environments which renovate existing spaces dedicated to innovative and enhanced learning as well as improved recreational facilities for the school and the community. Construction challenges included minimal disruption to the surrounding neighborhood, construction within a restrictive site, and performing to a schedule that allowed for absolutely no extensions of time. Creative and unique designs of the project focus on the four seasons and set this property apart from all other locations and provide an identity for the school. The design included input from the neighbors as well as the administration and staff to create an environment that encourages everyone to enjoy the outdoor experience of the Colorado seasons.

The Learning Landscapes Program was initiated in 1992 as a collaboration between Denver Public Schools, University of Colorado Denver, and private foundations to create multi-purpose environments which serve both the school and the surrounding community. Since inception, 84 DPS schools have received, or will receive, Learning Landscapes. During the summer of 2010, McGlone Elementary School was the recipient of one of the 2008 Bond Program Learning Landscapes transformations.

This urban school had a worn down, uninspiring playground. As the contractor, we met the challenges of organizing the construction activities within the constraints of the restrictive schedule, just-in-time deliveries, and resolving the construction issues that arise when working on a site with existing concealed conditions. Further, in order to achieve the sense of place, large elements such as shade structures, gateways, outdoor classrooms, architectural concrete, and raised planters were utilized. Also, in order to preserve the existing trees and to soften the effect of the hardscapes, large planting areas and raised beds were incorporated. The site also includes an area for a large community garden to be constructed in the future.

The theme of the McGlone Elementary Learning Landscape takes it’s inspiration from the seasons and their relationship to the earth’s hemispheres. The design of the thirty-two foot diameter solstice calendar was created by utilizing colored concrete and architectural sandblasting. The circular pattern was repeated in the design of the planting beds and the outdoor classroom. The use of strong primary colors throughout the project makes every element interesting to the students and extends through the entire site. The colors are also highlighted in the shade structure, which is the focal point of the playground.

The contractor utilized GreenCo Best Management Practices during the construction phase of the project. All effort was taken to control erosion within the constraints of the site, and to make efficient use of existing materials within the construction of the site. Local vendors were utilized to minimize travel time and the impact of hauling.

The school and the community have been the beneficiary of this exciting project due to the combined efforts of the school district, architect, and contractor. All expectations were met or exceeded. In this case, the ‘summer vacation’, became a summer of production so when the students and teachers returned to their facility, they had a new and inspirational Learning Landscape to enjoy for many years to come.