Northern Oregon Elementary School Welcomes Revamped Campus

By Eric Althoff

CORVALIS, Ore.—After the Corvallis School District adopted its “Innovation Team” of educators and others to envision what the future of its schools might look like, ideas have been put into practice, perhaps most notably at Garfield Elementary School, the first of the district’s schools to experience such a renovation.

Designer DLR Group worked with general contractor Fortis Construction Inc. at Garfield, which first opened for students in 1923. The school was named in honor of President James Garfield, the 20th American president and the second to be assassinated while in office. In the 21st century the school operates as a dual-language educational institute, immersing students not only in English but also Spanish.

DLR’s job at Garfield entailed building out new classrooms and updating earlier facilities there as well.

According to the school district, renovations at Garfield included six new classrooms, two of which are devoted specifically to art and science. Music rooms and new collaborative learning areas were also part of the master plan for the school. The designers and contractor also had to envision the existing classrooms to make them amenable to modern learning necessities. Furthermore, the plumbing, electrical and mechanics all had to be upgraded, in addition to safety improvements made around the school.

The renovations allowed the school to increase its overall footprint from 46,000 to 62,000 square feet.

DLR’s team was first invited to discuss changes to the school during several meetings with the Corvallis School District. In their news release, Principal Nancy Davila-Williams said that collaboration was key to the project’s success right from the beginning.

“I appreciated looking around the table and seeing familiar faces of Garfield families and also new faces of community members and school neighbors,” she said. “The architects asked questions, and our answers were really heard. We had an opportunity to engage in conversation with each other, and we were able to listen to each other’s ideas and perspectives. The design team really did get input from all the players who would be impacted by the projects.”

Added art teacher Jerry Bryan: “Everything we talked about for the art and science classroom happened.”

In an email sent to School Construction News, DLR Group project manager Elizabeth Delorme, AIA and LEED Green Associate, said that reconfiguring Garfield’s design allowed for students to experience “a warm, welcoming, and inclusive environment.”

“The design responds to the school’s culturally diverse student population by creating a strong sense of community and fosters direct connections to nature,” she said.