Crooked Billet Elementary School, Hatboro-Horsham School District
The new K-5 Crooked Billet Elementary School replaces the original 1950’s elementary school on the same site and was designed for 600 students to accommodate enrollments. Incorporating the history of the Battle of Crooked Billet as part of a 21st Century learning environment provided a unique opportunity to integrate the old with the new. Adjacent to the administrative main entrance, a two-story rotunda serves as an interactive learning space carrying the theme of the Crooked Billet landmark in front of the school through the main circulation areas of the building. The rotunda is centrally located between the curricular areas for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) program including; a STEAM classroom, media center, TV studio and Art classroom. This central core of the building also serves as the transitional area between the public spaces such as the gymnasium and cafeteria, and the private two-story classroom wing. To enhance the delivery of instruction, grade level classrooms are clustered around a large-group instruction area for that grade level. Each individual classroom has direct access to a small group instruction room which can either be shared by another classroom or divided into two rooms by a movable partition. This provides a unique opportunity to pull students out of the main classroom for individual or smaller group instruction in a controlled environment, or for larger group activities in the large group instruction room, without leaving the grade level cluster.
With an industrial complex on one side of the school, a residential neighborhood in front of the school and a creek and wooded area to the other side and around the back, the orientation and placement of the building on the site was important to the design. The larger public spaces act as a noise and aesthetic buffer to the industrial area, and the two-story classroom wing on the opposite side of the building takes advantage of the views of the green space down to the creek. Adequate parking is provided in front of the school, which also serves as the parent drop-off lane pulling cars off the roadway and onto the site. A separate bus access and drop-off area alongside the gym/cafeteria clearly separates bus and vehicular circulation on-site.
As a community school, it was important to involve as many of the key stakeholders as possible early in the process. A day-long design charrette with over 50 participants made up of teachers, parents, Borough officials and administration was held at the onset of the project. The intent was to introduce the project needs and program, identify goals and to develop concept plans that collectively reflected what a new elementary school might look like on this site. The ideas established through this planning process laid the foundation for the final design that responded to the environmental, instructional and safety concerns brought forth by the planning committee who truly have a vested interest in the new school.