The Heart of a Community

North Ridge Elementary School

A school is an integral part of its community. This is particularly true for elementary schools, which bring together not only students and staff but also a small army of parents, volunteers, and siblings whose daily rhythms harmonize with the school day. School pick-up and drop-off in a tightly knit community becomes more than a daily errand; it’s also an opportunity to connect, participate, and socialize, if only for a few moments.

When it became clear that the existing facilities for North Ridge Elementary School in Raleigh, NC were approaching the end of their useful service life, the school community didn’t want to lose the connectivity which made North Ridge feel special. The wooded campus was surrounded by neighborhoods and drew a huge population of walkers, and an hour before school let out each day, families started emerging from pathways through the woods with strollers and family dogs to gather and enjoy a little social time. Replacing the school would mean either relocating it to a new site- increasingly difficult to procure in the densely populated area, and with the risk of disrupting the tight-knit community- or demolishing the old campus and rebuilding a new school onsite. Even if it meant relocating students to a swing space during a year of construction, the latter option was the right choice.

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