Three new public schools were designed to replace three earlier and much smaller schools located in the midst of dense residential neighborhoods. CSS Landscape Architects worked with HMFH Architects to locate the new buildings and provided full site services from design through construction administration.
In addition to accommodating the much expanded program (larger buildings, increased parking, bus drop-off, and exterior recreation space), two of the sites presented a topographic challenge. At the Columbus School, there is a sixteen-foot change in elevation across a one block long site; at the Brooks School, the elevation change is twenty feet over two blocks. While the new buildings were designed using multiple stories to negotiate the steep slopes, these transitions are accomplished
outdoors with terracing, ramps, amphitheater seating and stairs. At the Columbus School, the play structure itself is designed with access points at both the street level and the playground, six feet below.
Colorful pavement patterning and a lively plant palette including hardy perennials and over 25 species of shrubs and trees complement the playful building facades.