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In Virginia, a new high school building helps reimagine the experience for 1,600 students

K-12 Schools

In Virginia, a new high school building helps reimagine the experience for 1,600 students

The design by Perkins Eastman features a range of high-performance strategies—from PV panels to low-flow water fixtures.

By Novid Parsi, Contributing Editor  | May 12, 2023
In Virginia, a new high school building helps reimagine the experience for 1,600 students
Rendering courtesy Perkins Eastman

In Virginia, the City of Alexandria recently celebrated the topping out of a new building for Alexandria City High School. When complete in 2025, the high-performance structure will accommodate 1,600 students. 

The project helps realize a local initiative called the Connected High School Network, which rethinks the way that the city delivers public high school education. The new building will help “reimagine the high school experience,” Alicia Hart, chief of facilities and operations of Alexandria City Public Schools, said in a statement.

The high school building will include interdisciplinary communities (or small learning neighborhoods); distributed science, art, and Career and Technical Education (CTE) labs; library/learning commons; and centralized and distributed administration and counseling. New and enhanced CTE opportunities will offer connections with local industry such as renewable energy, aerospace, cybersecurity, robotics, nursing, pharmacy, and surgical tech. Distributed dining areas have been reimagined as multistory “Creative Commons.” 

The building also will serve as an intergenerational community facility, with two gymnasiums, an aquatics facility, an early childhood center, a Teen Wellness Center, and Alexandria Community and Human Services offices.

Designed by Perkins Eastman as a healthy and high-performing school, the new structure targets Net Zero Energy and LEED Gold Certification. The high-performance strategies include the following:

  • Building enclosure: The design of the building’s walls, windows, and roof will minimize yearly energy loss, saving at least 25% more energy per year than a similar school designed to code-minimum levels.
  • Efficient systems: A geothermal well field will provide the building’s highly efficient heating and cooling.
  • Photovoltaic (PV) panels: A large PV system, located on the roof and other areas of the school site, will offset the school’s yearly energy use. 
  • Low-flow water fixtures: These will help reduce water use by 35% to 40% compared to a conventional building. 

On the Building Team:
Owner: Alexandria City Public Schools
Design architect and architect of record: Perkins Eastman Architects
Associate architect: Maginniss + Del Ninno Architects
MEP engineer: CMTA
Structural engineer: Ehlert Bryan
Civil engineer and landscape architect: Kimley-Horn
Construction manager: Gilbane

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