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James K. Polk Elementary School

Additions and Renovations

Polk Elementary School had not been expanded or upgraded since its construction in 1964. With an ever-increasing student population, increased capacity, maintaining its aging building systems, and providing the spaces needed for modern educational programs proved an additional challenge to the school’s facilities.

Maginniss + del Ninno Architects began by conducting a thorough survey and assessing existing conditions. M+dN organized and led a series of meetings with a building committee comprising teachers, administration, and parents to determine needs and prepare a program based on the current and future educational requirements. The resulting master plan outlined a phased project to minimize the disruption of school activities. The Alexandria School Board mandated that the project implement sustainable design strategies in concert with its GreenOvation program.

The project highlights several innovative strategies that reduced the school's energy cost by 45%. The outdated original HVAC system was replaced by a ground-coupled water-source system utilizing eighty deep wells and a variable refrigerant volume heat pump system. Solar hot water provides supplemental heat for the HVAC system as well as domestic hot water. In addition to the quiet and efficient HVAC system for all classrooms, a new ceiling, and daylight 5000 K lighting complete the upgrade of environmental systems.

The gymnasium addition features an Eco-Aire system designed to use energy-free tempering of the fresh air for the gymnasium by drawing it through buried conduits as well as evenly distributed tubular skylights and digitally controlled LED lighting fixtures.

Polk Elementary School also now features a beautiful and efficient green roof, which party contributed to the completed project’s LEED Gold certification.


Alexandria, VA, USA

Alexandria City Public Schools

60,000 sqft

LEED Gold Certified

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