Considered the oldest continually operating public school in Maryland, Annapolis Elementary has been serving students of the state’s historic capital for more than a century. As a subconsultant to Smolen-Emr-Ilkovitch Architects, KCI provided site/civil, landscape architecture and surveying services to conduct a feasibility study and then design a renovation that would help the school meet the academic and accessibility needs of today’s student.
The aging elementary school sits on a prominent site with views of the Statehouse domes as well as the nearby Annapolis City Dock and harbor. Sharing the property is the Philip L. Brown and Rachel Brown Building, which has been home off and on to the board of education and various administrative offices, as well as Annapolis High since it was built in 1905. Although not specifically listed in the Historic Register, both buildings are part of the Annapolis Historic District.
Renovation plans called for a three-story addition to connect the two buildings, significantly expanding the school’s square footage with space for larger classrooms and more modern equipment and facilities. In support of the architectural and interior changes, KCI focused on addressing site upgrades.
“The buildings and parking take up more than 85 percent of the 2.7-acre site,” said KCI Vice President Michael A. Lambert, LEED AP, ENV SP. “The tight constraints created challenges with placing the new playground, addressing stormwater management and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
To connect the parking lot with multiple first floor elevations, accessibility ramps had to wind around the new soft-surface play area, which was strategically situated between the two buildings. Engineers also called for a large underground sand filter beneath the parking lot to treat runoff before it enters the city’s storm drain system. Other features included use of prescribed materials like red brick and granite pavers to complement the historic setting, an urban pocket park between the parking lot and street, and an outdoor classroom.
With a personal interest in history, I paid particular attention to the old photographs in the school’s hallway and the original 1898 bell that was donated by students and teachers. Together with the site’s proximity to the Annapolis City Dock, they were regular reminders that I was working with a piece of Maryland history.
Michael A. Lambert, LEED AP, ENV SP, Practice Leader
The end result is a park-like setting that meets the needs of students and teachers, and serves as a fitting background to the architecture of both the existing facilities and the new connecting structure, while remaining sensitive to the historic nature of the buildings and surrounding community. With construction completed in August of 2014, the renovation ensures that Maryland’s oldest continuously operating public school will continue to welcome the city’s students into the foreseeable future.
Historic Annapolis awarded Annapolis Elementary School the organization’s 2014 Preservation Award for the superlative work and special sensitivity given to the building’s historic preservation during the comprehensive renovation.