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Grassfield High School

Chesapeake, Virginia

Chesapeake Public Schools

Waller, Todd and Sadler Architects

351,070 square feet

Organized around the idea of a school within a school, Grassfield High School is divided into four areas called houses, one for each grade level. The purpose of these houses is to give a sense of a smaller school community within the larger 2,200-student school. Each house is home to five to six hundred students. This philosophy minimizes student travel for core classes, allows students to stay within their house for a majority of the school day, and provides teachers, guidance counselors and assistant principals with the familiarity of a small school.

The main corridor is circular in shape and connects central administration, a 2,070-seat gymnasium, 800- seat cafeteria, 1,000-seat auditorium, and media center. The courtyard provides natural light to the interior and a visual link for school orientation. It is a protected outdoor environment which students can use as an extension to the cafeteria in nice weather, as an extension of the art labs, or as a place to gather for social interaction without risk of unauthorized visitors. A multi-use space located near the main entrance, called the SCHOLA, can be used for large group instruction or large meetings.

The school features abundant natural daylight and sustainable design features such as waterless urinals, light colored roof materials that reflect heat resulting in lower heating and cooling requirements, and occupancy sensors that keep lights turned off when rooms are not in use. All classrooms operate in a wireless network environment. Two portable laptop computer labs are in each of the four houses.

The 100-acre site includes an 8,000-seat stadium for football and soccer with a walking track for PE and for community use. A separate competition synthetic-surface running track and competition baseball, softball, field hockey fields, tennis courts and numerous practice fields support student and community functions.