Text description provided by the architects. Laurel Park Elementary School is a new 900-student school crafted from a renovation of an existing pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Apex, NC. The existing structure was completely gutted leaving only the structural frame, exterior walls with metal panels, roof systems, cooling tower, and boiler. While there were very few existing windows and doors, all were removed and recycled. The lower 7’-0” of metal panels were removed and used to patch areas of the existing facades that were damaged. This 7’-0” datum was replaced with cement panels for durability purposes. New windows were located to provide for optimal daylighting in the classrooms and offices. Car and bus canopies were added to indicate main access to and from the school. On the interior, a new 2nd floor level was fitted inside the warehouse sized spaces. All new interior walls, doors, glazing, and finishes were also added.
The existing building was not ideal for classroom layout which resulted in a somewhat confusing circulation pattern. Classrooms line the perimeter of the exterior while group spaces (library, multipurpose, dining) occupy the center of the school. The resultant “leftover” space provided for two circulation paths, a primary route that cuts through the main group spaces and a more circuitous route with access to classrooms. Color was used to orient users to the primary and secondary circulation paths, while new and existing skylights allowed natural light to penetrate into the group spaces in the heart of the school. An interior circulation ramp was added to connect floors of varying heights at the 2nd Level. This ramp is located at the intersection between the primary and secondary paths. Tucked inside the ramp is a special space used for quiet reading or student art projects.