ArchDaily | Broadcasting Architecture Worldwidethe world's most visited architecture website
i

Sign up now and start saving and organizing your favorite architecture projects and photos

i

Find the most inspiring products for your projects in our Product Catalog.

i

Get the ArchDaily Chrome Extension and be inspired with every new tab. Install here »

h

Nominate now the Building of the Year 2017 »

All
Projects
Products
Events
Competitions
  1. ArchDaily
  2. Projects
  3. Schools
  4. United States
  5. Michael Graves
  6. 2006
  7. AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves

AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves

AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves
AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves, © Michael Graves
© Michael Graves

© Michael Graves © Michael Graves © Michael Graves © Michael Graves +9

From the architect. A bright and fun building that stands out against it's surroundings, Michael Graves is well respected for his design that brought hope to the families of children with disabilities in Washington D.C. and surrounding areas.

© Michael Graves
© Michael Graves

St. Coletta was founded in 1959 by a couple with a child diagnosed with Down Syndrome. As they had history dealing with the struggle of finding an educational system that worked for their child, they decided to establish the school as a special education charter which serviced and educated children with severe or multiple disabilities. 

The bright colors and simple forms make it very fitting for the people that the building serves, as it is fun, playful and inviting.

© Michael Graves
© Michael Graves

The 99,000-square-footage of the plot was built upwards in a series of two-story "school houses" which attach to a double-height central hall with a skylight, referred to as "village green." The area also includes a community room and full court gymnasium for the students. This large layout wonderfully accommodates all of the programs run by the institution, including an adult day program.

© Michael Graves
© Michael Graves

The total cost came to about $32 million, which was appointed from congressional appropriations, a bond secured by Bank of America, and a capital fundraising campaign. What stuns the proud parents, neighbors, and the general population the most is the upscale designs of every aspect of the building.

© Michael Graves
© Michael Graves

Students range in age from 3 to 22, and are housed according to age in one of the five individual "houses."

© Michael Graves
© Michael Graves

In a city that seemed insensitive to the needs of the children initially, the parents were so thrilled to see a gymnasium suitable for a college team, and a kitchen suitable for a fancy restaurant. The building also includes a nursing facility, physical therapy centers and a hydrotherapy room.

There are studios for art and music, and sensory rooms designed to stimulate students with lights, colors and sounds.

© Michael Graves
© Michael Graves

The playfulness of light in the central atrium with arched ceilings and multiple skylights add to the experience, as rooms are brightened and colors are enhanced by the flow of natural light.

© Michael Graves
© Michael Graves

Ironically enough, while in the early planning stages of the project, Graves grew sick with a mysterious illness that left him partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. John Diebboll, Graves partner in the project, said that this gave Graves an even greater insight into the needs of the population.

© Michael Graves
© Michael Graves

"We have always been drawn to projects for children," wrote Diebboll. "However, nothing in our lives had prepared us for the day that Michael Graves and I first visited the St. Coletta School in Alexandria. We experienced an immediate connection with the students and staff and realized that this would be a once-in-a-lifetime challenge and an extraordinary opportunity."

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: Megan Sveiven. "AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves" 15 Nov 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/88771/ad-classics-st-coletta-school-michael-graves/>
Read comments

41 Comments

Samia Hamad · June 13, 2012

???? ???? ????? ?????? + ??????? + ????????? ???????? http://t.co/IAlGwUnv

Sofitel WashingtonDC · March 07, 2012

This week&#39s architecture highlight is the St. Coletta School: http://t.co/0DrRUyEr via @archdaily #architecture

Centor4 · December 24, 2011

AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves | ArchDaily http://t.co/4RLiTHHb via @archdaily

Centor4 · December 24, 2011

AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves http://t.co/55ugPgmy

Allison Hyatt · June 15, 2011

I agree that Michael Graves' unique and whimsical style was perfect for this project. As a school for students at a disadvantage to their peers, the St. Coletta School provides an uplifting environment with top notch facilities for its students by utilizing color and natural lighting. I also think that the separation of the overall school house into smaller houses is important to create a smaller sense of community among the students that can be harder to develop in large schools. Overall, the I think that the design effectively mirrors the function.

jules.gianakos · June 14, 2011

I understand wanting a children’s school to be bright and fun, but this is just awful. I do not understand Michael Graves or his continued insistence upon designing buildings that stand out in the worst way. Graves’ use of individual “school houses” with over-scaled brick patterns are the epitome of kitsch. There certainly are better ways of creating bright and fun spaces without being cartoonish and irrelevant. I do not know how this man is still allowed to design buildings.

Wonder · March 10, 2011

I LOVE Michael Graves's designs and this is one of the best. It is also an amazing an inspirational story. I love almost all his works, but this is an amazing building, with a terrific story behind it. :)

Kwangbae Lee · November 19, 2010

AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves | ArchDaily http://t.co/lQ5I03U - Michael Graves? ???? ????? ?????.

Obinna Nwosu · November 18, 2010

I used to like POMO but fell out with it in the late 90's. But this is refreshing and interesting. Some of Michael Graves' works will still be relevant

Anita Shewchuk · November 18, 2010

Such a fun and meaningful design! #architecturewithintent AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves | ArchDaily http://t.co/T2g7w5m

sss · November 18, 2010

there is something awesome about this

Nicholas Patten · November 17, 2010

AD Classics: St. Coletta School. http://bit.ly/9jp8KU

Steve · November 17, 2010

Thats a beautiful building, playful and whimsical, perfect for the kids. I especially like the use of the roof tiles in a vertical wall application, an interesting way to achieve the look.

Mahshid · November 17, 2010

Classics indeed: AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves : http://bit.ly/dA0OlX

Elizabeth Fielder · November 17, 2010

AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves | ArchDaily http://t.co/SttW7ui via @archdaily-love this!

Norzam Darmin · November 17, 2010

Micheal Graves approach to design often goes against the normal perception of the mass of what building should be. By form this building is not aesthetically pleasing but it's unique and it's deviate from the normal thought. The daring use of colour help to rejuvenate the life of its cccupant, making it cheerful and energetic.

Nokey Dokey · November 17, 2010

[art] AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves http://pulsene.ws/k4Fr

Sean Alston · November 17, 2010

"@ArchDaily: AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves http://archdai.ly/cUureL #architecture"

Chris Meisenzahl · November 17, 2010

Beautiful, Love The Colors ... "AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves" ( http://bit.ly/dAKY8S ) #Architecture @ArchDaily

amian · November 17, 2010

Post Modernism is like pretty much everything else in the world: some is good, some is bad.

In my opinion this is good. The plans are legible and complex with what looks like plenty of functional spaces and nice public spaces. The exterior is playful but has enough formality to be appropriate for a school.

Given so much contemporary educational architecture is blandly crisp (read inexpensive) with pasted on details at odd scales this is hugely better.

Personally, I would take a colorfully minimal Swiss school any day but I certainly don't object to this one.

Yojhanny Arce Vindas · November 17, 2010
ey · November 17, 2010

Difficult to understand. But easy if one knows work of Asplund and Plecnik, even Kahn.
POMO is responsible for some of the greatest public buildings, but was terrible at almost everything else.
I just like the freedom of this kind of architecture.

Brian · November 16, 2010

Postmodern architecture is back? I would never had guessed that this way of building would get a come-back in real world. It belongs in Disney World...

nofutureachitect · November 16, 2010

i could never have built that , but i love it..
it looks loose, relaxed and random and then you check those well-balanced plans.. not too schematic, not too circumstantial.

i like it when the guy doesn't necessarily throw all his creative angst into your face

so why bother with the post-modern look? this building is better architecture than quite a lot of modern-looking buildings we see around.

as for the social disaster, i don't get it..

Sammy J · November 16, 2010

St. Coletta School — a Michael Graves project I actually like! via @ArchDaily http://bit.ly/bjsU2u

kioku · November 16, 2010

Social disaster !!!

Red Wolf · November 16, 2010

St Coletta School / Michael Graves http://goo.gl/xhz7H #architecture

Backbone Design · November 16, 2010

Via @ArchDaily - AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves http://dlvr.it/8bqzB #architecture

Peter · November 16, 2010

my day is officially ruined!

thomas foral · November 16, 2010

AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves | ArchDaily http://t.co/3N6BacP via @archdaily

Sammy J · November 16, 2010

This is the first Graves project I've seen that I didn't instantly dislike! And I suspect that its playful forms and colours could be appealing to the intended clients.

arch_related · November 16, 2010

AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves: © Michael GravesA bright and fun building that stands out agai... http://bit.ly/b738lt

Erik Joya · November 16, 2010

AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves: © Michael Graves A bright and fun building… http://goo.gl/fb/fwHBW

Architecture+Molding · November 16, 2010

AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves: A bright and fun building that stands out against it’s surroun... http://bit.ly/dt5Krq

Barry Maguire · November 16, 2010

AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves via ArchDaily - © Michael Graves A bright and fun ... http://tinyurl.com/2uogc2n

Bocetos Digitales · November 16, 2010

AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves: © Michael GravesA bright and fun building that stands out agai... http://bit.ly/dt5Krq

DEZIGN · November 16, 2010

AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves: © Michael GravesA bright and fun building that stands out agai... http://bit.ly/b738lt

gible · November 16, 2010

AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves http://ff.im/-tOTqw

Mario Herrera García · November 16, 2010

AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves | ArchDaily http://t.co/WQsWVw7 vía @archdaily :/ P L O P !

Matthew · November 16, 2010

In most instances I hate Michael Graves' design. It's cartoonish and garish. But in this case, it works. In just a few instances it seems that his language coincides with the program...

Matthius · November 16, 2010

Given the circumstances of the project I would say that the design is fittingly simple and inviting, but the design is so visually atrocious....

···

Comments are closed

Read comments
© Michael Graves

AD 经典: St. Coletta 学院 / Michael Graves