New E3 School
CLIENT: E3: Elevate Early Education
Norfolk, Virginia

Organized around a central interior “street” or corridor, the 12,000-square-foot New E3 School (Elevate Early Education) was based on the idea of community. The street is defined by small, playful buildings that project and recede into the two-story, light-filled space. Classrooms are found on either side of the street.

A large elliptical piazza, called the Kiva, is located mid-way along the street, providing community space for story hour, puppet shows, educational programs, and social gatherings. Classrooms and their adjacent, multi-sloped “houses” are color-coded in seven vibrant hues. Natural light illuminates the Kiva and the main circulation space. Clerestory openings bathe the interior in light all day. Suspended mobiles, sails, and glass prisms add whimsical touches of colors as students move through the space. A suspended wooden sculpture forms a roof over the Kiva. The large skylight above sends rays of sun light and shadow through the wooden slats, creating a variety of forms across the walls, floors, and furniture throughout the day.

Nine classrooms provide daytime homes to the students. Four smaller classrooms house eight students each, and five larger classrooms provide space for fourteen students each. The open-plan, flexible classrooms have high ceilings, large windows, and movable furnishings. Classrooms have private bathrooms accessible from within each space. These spaces project into the corridor to form the houses.

High windows facing the street bring natural light into the space. Breakout rooms, for small group study, special projects, and one-on-one learning are located between each of the larger classrooms. An operable, acoustical wall is shared between two of these classrooms giving E3 the ability to have entire school performances, activities, and community gatherings in one space.

The New E3 School was envisioned as an early education prototype model to serve low, middle, and upper income children. The curriculum is based on a STEAM curriculum; Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. The premise is young students will develop a much higher capacity for lifelong learning, as opposed to the ubiquitous day care centers that only provide child care for young children. The architectural design for E3 supports this idea by creating a dynamic, inviting, and colorful learning environment.

Winner: 2015 Hampton Roads Association for Commercial Real Estate (HRACRE) Excellence in Development Design Award - Best Educational Building - Award of Merit