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Vansville Elementary School/Vansville Community Center


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Vansville Elementary School/Vansville Community Center

Location: Beltsville, MD
Owner: Prince George's County Public Schools
Architect: Grimm & Parker

This project involved the construction of a new 94,795 square foot, two-story elementary school and community center.  Located in Beltsville, Maryland, this facility primarily supports Prince George’s County Public Schools.  The local community is further served with a gymnasium, exercise room, and associated spaces funded by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

The project required complete development of a wooded site.  Site work included clearing, grading, utility installation, asphalt paving, concrete walkways, lighting, landscaping and athletic equipment.  Structural components included masonry walls with brick veneer, steel columns and beams, and composite metal and concrete decking.  The building envelope incorporated aluminum curtain wall and storefront, built-up and standing-seam metal roofing, skylights, EIFS, and canopies.  Interior construction included exposed CMU and gypsum board assemblies, acoustical ceilings, ceramic tile, terrazzo, carpet, resinous flooring, and acoustical wall panels.  The mechanical system included geothermal wells that supported heating and cooling equipment, as well as energy recovery units.  Electrical systems included power, high efficiency lighting, data, fire alarm, communications, security, and audio/visual.  Additional items incorporated include modern educational requirements such as visual display boards, operable partitions, projection screens, food service equipment, and athletic equipment.

This large, complex project was built, commissioned and occupied by children and teachers in an amazing thirteen months.  Maintaining this critical schedule would be problematic without the difficulties encountered.  From the beginning of site preparation, it became apparent that phasing would present challenges.  Multiple temporary bio-retention ponds were required, and soil surplus had to be stockpiled.  Coordinating these locations with the building footprint, three separate geothermal well farms, site access and laydown areas challenged the project team’s scheduling abilities.

Additionally, electrical power was not available at the site.  As construction progressed, it became apparent that permanent power would not be installed until the end of the project.  Unable to allow this situation to cause delays, temporary generators and air conditioners were utilized and the project proceeded as scheduled.  This proved to be an extremely difficult and costly task, but was necessary and allowed the project to be completed on time.  Permanent power was finally completed less than three weeks before the facility was occupied.

What truly sets this facility apart from others is its LEED Gold certification, making it the second public school in the State of Maryland and first in the County to receive this distinction.  The design and construction teams expended countless hours ensuring administrative and construction processes were in keeping with the project goals.  While this added another level of difficulty to the project, the efforts were well spent when considering the benefits to the community and environment.

Described as the “Green Cathedral of Learning,” Vansville Elementary School and Community Center now stands as a model for early education facilities.  From its role in both educating our children and serving the local community, to being an example of environmental and social responsibility, this facility is one that we are very proud of and honored to have been a part of.  As one of the first LEED Gold certified facilities in Maryland, it set the example for others to follow.