East Lansing Public Schools passed a bond proposal to replace all five of the buildings being used as elementary schools. The district is unique in that there is a large percentage of students that walk or bike to school, with the elementary schools nestled into established neighborhoods. When it came time to redesign the schools, a primary driver was that they fit into the same “neighborhood school” model. 

The school district’s vision for the new Glencairn Elementary was to create environments where 21st century learning could take place. It was also a priority to create spaces where the students enjoyed learning and the staff enjoyed teaching. One way was for our team to carefully consider connections that could be made linking indoors to outdoors visually and physically.  

Safety and security were thought through in layers starting from entry into the site all the way through to individual classrooms. In keeping with the neighborhood school model, pedestrian and bike safety was paramount. Vehicular traffic was carefully coordinated to ensure the safety of pedestrians. The team also ensured security by creating a clear and open entrance that allows the school to control who enters the building.  

The school district asked our team to emphasize sustainability wherever possible. This was achieved through planning for district growth, positioning the building appropriately to take advantage of the climate, and utilizing the earth for geothermal heating and cooling. The team also positioned the district for the future use of solar panels. 

The new Glencairn Elementary was designed so that it doesn’t appear institutional. Taking cues from the surrounding neighborhoods, the building features a sloped roof that fits in well with the existing residential character while being unique among elementary schools.  

Glencairn Elementary School

Location East Lansing, MI
Size 50,800 sq. ft. New Construction
Status Completed 2019
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