Trees Win: School Board Picks “Forest” Design for New MacArthur Elementary School Building

Affordable Housing Co-Location Idea Officially Scrubbed

Architectural rendering of the new MacArthur School building. (Image: DLR Group)

Alexandria, Va. —  It was the trees that did it. Plus a strong community desire to connect the new school building with nature, and wrap the whole project in an eco-friendly bow.  Last night, the Alexandria School Board unanimously voted to move forward with the “Forest” concept for the new Douglas MacArthur Elementary School building.

The design provides for plenty of open space for children to play both inside and outside school hours, and it takes advantage of the wooded area already existing behind the school site.

“We are excited to take this step toward providing the MacArthur community the school they have long been waiting for,” said School Board Chair Cindy Anderson.

First GREEN School Building for ACPS

The new school building will be the first school in the City of Alexandria to be net-zero energy ready, in line with the City’s green building policy. The final design will be environmentally friendly and energy efficient and will be set up ready to generate as much energy as it uses.

The new school is expected to open its doors in January 2023.

Affordable Housing Co-Location Idea Scrubbed

The option of colocating affordable/workforce housing on the site was ruled out last week following a joint statement released by the City of Alexandria and ACPS (PDF). The City Manager and Superintendent agreed that it was essential to “keep the MacArthur project on its unique, and extremely tight planning, design and construction schedule.”

The new Douglas MacArthur Elementary School is scheduled to open its doors in January 2023. The original opening was scheduled for 2025, but in April 2019, the School Board voted to use swing space at the former Patrick Henry Elementary School for Douglas MacArthur students beginning in 2020. This decision allowed ACPS to move up the timeline for the Douglas MacArthur community. A total of $69,433,250 is set aside for the new school project in the proposed FY 2021-30 Capital Improvement Program Budget. (Image: ACPS)

Exploring housing is likely to have delayed the project and extended the use for swing space. Instead, other forms of colocation such as for after-school recreational facilities and programming and pre-K space will continue to be explored for the new MacArthur building.

The architects will continue to meet with the Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group and community throughout the spring as the project moves into the design phase.

MacArthur staff and students will say goodbye to the old building in June through collaborative alumni, community, staff and student art and video projects, as well as a farewell celebration.

For more information about the Douglas MacArthur Modernization project.

SEE ALSO: What and Where are the 25 Pocket Parks in Alexandria, and What’s the City Doing with Them?