Brightwood Elementary School

Washington, DC

The modernization and expansion of Brightwood Elementary School ensured that an existing 1926-era school would continue to serve the needs of the community and its children. By celebrating the surrounding urban landscape, EE&K’s design for Brightwood creates an inviting atmosphere that makes the school seem like an extension of its neighborhood.

Organized as a “village” of “neighborhoods,” the building is scaled to meet the developmental and intellectual needs of the students and complement the adjacent urban neighborhood. The new Commons Building expands the resources of the school and enhances its central role within the community by opening the building to neighborhood-wide use. Each façade of the building complements its surroundings. A new entry and plaza for instance reestablishes the importance of a vital community corner.

Every aspect of the interior is designed to educate, inspire and respond to the students; for example, hallways become galleries and ceiling grids become display spaces. Flexible classrooms create a variety of settings for individual, small group and large group work, and educational technology is available through both wired and wireless network connections. Education continues outside the classroom, with garden plots for each class to tend, an amphitheater for large group gatherings, and a stage that accommodates indoor and outdoor performances.