Drayton Mills Elementary School, Spartanburg School District 7

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Certified: 1 Green Globe by the Green Building Initiative (GBI)

Awarded:

  • Learning By Design, Outstanding Project Award, 2019 
  • Association for Learning Environments (A4LE), Excellence in Design Merit Award, 2019

When McMillan Pazdan Smith began designing the new Drayton Mills Elementary School, one of the top priorities was to create a facility that fulfilled its duties as educator, community ambassador, and protector of children’s welfare simultaneously. However, our team also had to consider how to solve older problems like overcrowding, outdated technology, and occupant health issues. Replacing two schools, Chapman Elementary and Houston Elementary, the school design also includes a wall of history so that neither schools will be forgotten.

The new school represents the district’s residents and the surrounding neighborhood — and values both visually and in practice. Based on the same design trends seen in many of the most successful contemporary schools across the nation, the classrooms are designed to work as “neighborhoods” within each grade. Each of these areas also has its own dedicated collaborative workspace to enhance the ideas of teamwork and cohesion. The open-plan classrooms and extracurricular spaces address critically important issues like daylighting and visual access, reinforcing a sense of lightness and levity in the learning environment. The exterior of the building is designed to blend casually with the landscaping elements and the playground, fostering a comfortable scale for users and visitors alike.

The design of Drayton Mills responded to the compact site by utilizing a two-story floor plan to minimize the building footprint. The building is located closer to front of the site to provide room for car and bus drives on either side and playgrounds behind the building.