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Renaissance Academy

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Renaissance Academy


Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach City Public Schools

RRMM Architects

290,000 square feet

With a capacity of 1,600 students in grades 6-12, Renaissance Academy houses the school division’s alternative education programs, Princess Anne Center for Pregnant Teens, the Open Campus Center and SECEP. The H-shaped, two-story facility features a nucleus of shared spaces connected to academic wings which separate the complex student groupings horizontally and vertically.

Classrooms contain interactive whiteboards, built-in projection systems and internet access. Technical and career skills are an emphasis; the facility included a commercial kitchen laboratory for the culinary arts program and a lab where students can learn how to hang and tape drywall. The building includes separate facilities for middle school and high school students. Shared spaces include the auditorium and gymnasium. The building has increased levels of secure space for containing troubled students.

The educational center includes a geothermal mechanical system with well field, rainwater collection, greywater system and a 16,000 square foot green roof. The project was slated to achieve LEED Silver, but ended up achieving LEED Gold.

The use of natural daylight saves energy while enhancing the learning environment. Solar tubes extend up through the roof so that daylight is reflected into interior spaces. Light monitors measure the amount of daylight available and automatically adjust the amount of artificial light needed for optimum learning conditions.

These green elements of the project are incorporated into the building design as a teaching tool. A mechanical room was made visible to students via a window so they can observe various environmental mechanical processes. Rainwater collection may be viewed from within each of the cafeterias through a see-through rain leader used to drain rain water to the cistern to be recycled. This helps keep sustainability “top of mind” every time it rains.

This project received an Award of Excellence for Best Sustainable Building from The Hampton Roads Association for Commercial Real Estate.