ECS Middle School

An environmentally attuned new building for the Ecological Charter School

Pittsburgh, PA
Steve Lee, Akhil Badjatia
Spring 2019

This studio was focused upon the materials, assembly, and systems necessary to produce a realistic, sustainable, and elegant building. The Environmental Charter School currently has several buildings in Pittsburgh, but was interested in developing a stand alone middle school for grades 6 - 8. After several conversations with the client regarding their pedagogy and curriculum structure we identified a set of shared goals and desires and were tasked with designing towards these. Professional structural and systems engineers were available for us to consult, and were involved with the process of design as well. The project was presented to a mixed jury, and the drawings were hoping to bridge the typical gap between construction and competition sets.

The project splits the 12 classrooms into 3 distinct bars, one for each looping group of students, creating a sense of ownership and belonging assosciated with their space. The spaces in between serve as circulation and greenroof, and the three classroom elements sit atop the double height multi-purpose space, a flexible ThinkLab, and the administration wing.

The building was carefully tuned for passive solar performance and is equipped with solar shingles on the rooves of the classroom bars. It also incorporates natural ventilation strategies, rainwater management, high r-value assemblies, and sustainable materials.