Architects: Semple Brown Design
Location: Denver, CO, USA
Project Team: Sarah Semple Brown, AIA, Bryan Schmidt, AIA, LEED AP, Marc Applebaum, Architect, Mary Kay Sunset, ASID, LEED AP, Andrea Nicholl, Project Manager, JC Elder, LEED AP
Structural Engineering: McGlamery Structural Group
Mechanical & Electrical Engineering: ME Engineers
Civil Engineering: JVA
General Contractor: Pinkard Construction
Owner’s Representative: Project One Integrated Services
Area: 15000.0 ft2
Project Year: 2011
Photographs: Miller Hall Photography
From the architect. The Anschutz Commons building is part of the 7-acre Graland Country Day School Campus, a private K-8 educational institution established in 1924. Anschutz Commons is located at the heart of the campus – that truly engages the architectural guidelines established by Jacques Benedict reaffirming the strong design unity on the campus. The new 15,000 square foot state-of-the-art building is anticipated to earn a LEED Gold certification.
The school’s motivating factors for a new dining/student commons space were driven by the desire to provide improved nutritional meals and a setting to teach students about healthy choices. Another factor was capacity – the new building improves capacity up to 650 students which allows for larger blocks of instructional time and smoother transitions for younger students.
Key goals for the project included:
• LEED Gold requirements
• 9 month schedule
• $3.5 million dollar budget (15,000 square foot building)
• Meeting strict architectural campus guidelines
• Full service kitchen which allows the school to further control the nutritional level of the food being served to their students
• Flexible special event space
Graland Country Day School was originally located in the Denver countryside. Its founders' original concept for the school was a "country day school with plenty of open space, sunshine and fresh air." The city has grown to the edges of the original site. The campus has many aesthetically pleasing open spaces that serve as physical and visual respite from the otherwise busy campus. Teachers from all disciplines and grades frequently bring their students outdoors during classes making the play spaces and the open spaces between the buildings critical to the quality of student life on campus.
The architect took great care to maintain the existing character of the campus and the quality of the outdoor space while special attention was given to reducing the overall massing of the new two-story building. The impact of taller structures is minimized by carving the lower level into the site; and minimizing the ceiling/floor structural depth. As a result, the new Anschutz Commons nestles in against the larger gymnasium building and gently frames views of the campus and gardens.
The team was also able to design specific yet flexible spaces in the new building to serve the largest population possible, whether that is the outside community or the school community. The dining hall space can accommodate presentations, dances, receptions as well as the cafeteria set up that it is used daily for classroom activities. The south facing glass façade provides an abundance of natural daylight into the dining hall; opening towards the patio it will allow the school to hold larger functions and student gatherings. The natural daylight was a key goal for the lower level of the building as well – the team made sure the classrooms were not in a “dungeon” basement type of environment. Each of the 650 square foot classrooms on the west side have been provided with views towards the playing field while the east classrooms have a lightwell that filters natural daylight throughout the day.
One of the major challenges the team faced was budget. The project team worked diligently to design responsibly and sustainably within a fixed cost. The project and cost were refined over an evaluation process to achieve the best solution for the best price while being responsive to the Graland campus aesthetic and responsible to the donors. One example of weighing cost versus a sustainable decision was to re-use the roof tiles from the existing building on the new Commons building.
Text provided by Semple Brown Design