Douglas & Gates Elementary School

The Douglas & Gates Elementary School project combines two elementary schools into one twin school; each including grades preschool through fifth grade. The site, located in Acton, Massachusetts, is rich in natural landscape features, including vegetated wetlands and a beautiful boardwalk with an observation deck. The site amenities create exciting design opportunities, in addition to strategic challenges. The entire parcel of the two existing elementary school sites creates an overall parcel of just under 32 acres. However, excluding the wetland setbacks and floodplain restrictions, we had 6.31 acres to accommodate the three-story school, parking for 180 spaces, vehicular circulation, (3) age-appropriate playgrounds, outdoor classrooms, and one regulation-size softball field. The client is committed to achieving LEED accreditation in addition to qualifying as a Net-Zero establishment. Our design approach harnesses the appreciation for nature and preservation by centering on the educational experience of stormwater on its journey from the building roof downward, through the outdoor classroom spaces, until it daylights from its educational journey into the natural resource area.