Lakemont Elementary School
Rising construction costs and land shortages prompted Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) to seek out more compact school designs for its $1.97 billion plan to renovate and replace 136 educational facilities. Ranking at the top is C.T. Hsu + Associates’ new urban elementary school prototype.
Lakemont Elementary School is the first school in the district to benefit from the firm’s new urban design, with a $15 million replacement campus constructed on the school’s existing site located at 901 North Lakemont Avenue in Winter Park, Fla.
The firm utilized its two-story elementary school prototype with a compact footprint to deliver the 89,826 GSF required to accommodate 758 students and satisfy all the district’s established design standards within an 11.37-acre site. Unlike the widely-used multi-story “big box” elementary school prototype, the new Lakemont Elementary School brings day lighting into all instructional spaces and hallways.
The design features three simple interlocking rectilinear bars grouped around a single secure courtyard, two two-story classroom wings and one single story building that houses core spaces. An interior (versus open-air) covered two-story lobby functions as an academic “street” linking the single-story core spaces to the two-story classroom wings and providing a single secure entrance. Core spaces like the cafeteria, media center and administration area have independent exterior entrances to allow for off-hour community use. Centralized, flexible group activity spaces are provided on each floor of the two-story classroom wings to allow team teaching and hands-on learning and encourage greater interaction between students in different classes.
The new school redefined Lakemont’s learning environment and rekindled community enthusiasm. “On the first day of school, the children were just mesmerized when they walked in,” said principal Susan Stephens. “Our community got to see the school at a sneak preview before the school opened. They were very interested since they got to see it built up gradually over the year of construction.”
Construction began in June 2007 with the new campus completed in time for the start of the 2008-09 school year. It accomplished within a budget of $15.3 million, nine months of design and 14 months construction.