Perkins Eastman | Newell Elementary School

Newell Elementary School

Charlotte, North Carolina
Newell Elementary School is the newest prototype for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) school system, which serves more than 146,000 K-12 students in the Charlotte region.

Newell incorporates the requirements of CMS’s design guidelines while it introduces new features that reflect the best strategies in school design today. This includes a plan that enables easy and constant monitoring and supervision by staff members for student safety, a wayfinding system that incorporates colored zones that identify one’s location, and revisions to the existing guidelines for the media center to reflect trends in volume counts, computer technology, and interactive group learning areas. In addition, our design recalls the original school’s design through plentiful daylighting and excellent views of the many trees preserved on the site.

As a prototype, it is critical that the design adapts well to a variety of sites and student population sizes. Accordingly, the wings of the school can be easily reconfigured in different locations, stacked to create two-story configurations, or “flipped” on either side of the central organizational spine of the school.

It was also important that the design can be built with a simple, versatile, and adaptable construction method. An energy- and cost-efficient masonry veneer allows for options at the exterior elevations, while a variety of masonry types, colors, and patterns allows each iteration of the prototype design its own unique character per its site context.