Washington Heights Elementary School is a replacement school located in Northside Fort Worth, on the south side of West Long Avenue, between Clinton Avenue and North Houston Street. The location of the existing underground school and parking lot required that the new school building be located in the current playﬁeld area, at the north end of the site. Meacham International Airport is northwest of the school, across the street from Long Avenue.
Washington Heights ES serves grades Pre-K through 5th, including 21 standard classrooms, in addition to an assortment of special use rooms, allowing for a maximum capacity of 500 students. The building is organized around an 'equator' line (main corridor), dividing the school between public spaces on the south, and private spaces on the north. Public spaces include the administration, gymnatorium, cafeteria and library. The gymnatorium and cafeteria have direct access to the playgrounds and fenced-in playﬁelds. Multiple south-facing canopies provide outdoor shade cover for teachers near the playgrounds. The private spaces, or grade-level classrooms, are located along the north side of the building to take advantage of the north light.
The proximity of the airport to the school made classroom acoustics a top priority for Fort Worth ISD and WRA Architects. The classrooms respond to this concern by rotating clockwise, turning windows away from the airport. The west walls of the building limit windows to a bare minimum, and are solid masonry to keep much of the noise outside.
Positioned on a compact 3.8 acre site, the footprint was minimized through the design of a two story scheme, an underground storm detention system and head-in on-street parking. This allowed more play fields and playgrounds on the south end of the site as well as conserving the existing parent-funded playground.
The two-story school design, solar orientation, natural day-lighting in all classrooms and high-efficiency HVAC system with energy monitoring allow for a significant decrease in energy consumption.