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  Independence School, Page 40Independence School

1309 Veale Road #22, Wilmington, DE 19810

110 S. Poplar Street, #400, Wilmington, DE 19801

Newark, Delaware
Total Square Feet: 66,000
Construction Period: May 2003 to Mar 2005

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Gredell & Associates - P.O. Box 357, Newark, DE 19715 
MECHANICAL & ELECTRICAL ENGINEER: Furlow Associates - 1206 Society Drive, Claymont, DE 19703 
THEATER CONSULTANT: R. A. Clapp & Associates LLC - 530 Yale Avenue, Pitman, NJ 08071 
ACOUSTICAL ENGINEER: Metropolitan Acoustics - 40 West Evergreen, #108, Philadelphia, PA 19118

The Independence School was founded approximately thirty years ago by a group of parents with a vision of an independent, challenging educational environment. The new 66,000-square-foot expansion project increases the school’s capacity in response to continued and growing success.

The new program increases classroom capacity of first, second, third grade students, and early childhood classrooms. The project provides for a new Library, Faculty Lounge, new relocated Multipurpose Gym and the Performing Arts center. The Performing Arts wing is designed to accommodate the school’s long and successful tradition of musical and vocal education. The center houses a Band Room for ±140 students including practice rooms, a Choral room with practice room, Instrument storage with capacity for future growth, and a 900 seat Auditorium. The stage is designed to accommodate the entire band. The new addition includes a Gallery space adjacent to the Auditorium providing display space for student work. The Gallery also satisfied a need for space to gather before and after performances. This space opens to an inner courtyard for outdoor activities. The program includes a new Admissions office which is adjacent to the front entry and is part of the new visual focal point of the campus.

For many years, the existing facility operated as two separate buildings. The school had a strong desire to connect the two buildings that are 333 feet apart and differ in floor level by nine feet. Prior to the new expansion teachers and students had to go outdoors to go between buildings. Practical concerns aside, there was a strong desire to create one building with a distinct, unified and dynamic image to represent the school.

The architectural challenge was to connect two buildings with two entries while maintaining two separate entrances. Additionally, the rotunda which had served as an icon for the school was to remain while also creating a new visual focal point. The two existing buildings consist of different vocabularies and the main building is large and therefore sets precedence of materials, arrangement of fenestration and general massing. To tie the two buildings together a new axis was created, a line connecting the two entry points and is a basis of the floor plan arrangement of the new building components.

Architectural elements are derived from existing materials and elements to create a new focal point while at the same time relating to the original structures. The new Faculty Lounge and Admissions suite, capped with a sweeping curved roof and wrapped in arcing screen walls signifies the new front entry and establishes a new focal point in the campus. Elements from the existing rotunda have been intentionally referenced and embellished to enforce the effect. Masonry piers establish the line of the new axis and reiterate the connection of the two buildings. Sun shading to the south and west create passive solar shading and accentuate architectural features in the form of deep overhangs, sun shades and screen walls.

Building materials consist of brick, splitface masonry, cast stone and exposed steel. Copper colored standing seam roofs are incorporated to the curved roofs and sun shades. Careful attention to masonry detailing and arrangement of fenestration serves to both blend the various structures and accentuate featured elements. The end result seeks to achieve a single cohesive design. The success of the project is due in no small part to the eagerness, enthusiasm and vision of the staff and team environment that persisted from design stage through construction.

DIV 03:
Split Face Block: Trenwyth Industries.
DIV 04: Brick: Glen Gery.
DIV 07: Metal Roof: Firestone Metals®/UnaClad®; Membrane: Carlisle SynTec.
DIV 08: Entrances & Storefronts, Windows: Kawneer; Insulated Glass: PPG.
DIV 09: Carpet: Lees.

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