The Hilltop Montessori School presented a challenge to Stevens & Associates and Bread Loaf Architecture: they had around 18 months to find a location, design, and complete construction for a 24,000 square foor primary, elementary, and middle school, as well as a limited budget. Through a well planned design process that resulted in virtually no changes to the original design and minimum site related change orders, there was even money left over after the school was constructed within the timeline, serving as a great success story and a valuable resource to the community.
LEED certification requirements and sustainable design practices were taken into consideration during design. The site slopes were balanced with cuts and fills and used building foundations to retain earth with provided grades that were easily accessible.
To emphasize pedestrian safety, a speed table is located in the drop-off loop which is located within easy access to the buildings, but a safe distance from recreational areas. This layout minimizes pedestrian crossings. Various start times were proposed for different age groups to minimize traffic and promote a continuous flow. Mountable curbs were chosen to allow fire trucks closer contact, and a dry hydrant was installed to provide fire protection for the school and neighboring properties.
A primary goal of the project was to provide a learning environment that intersected with the natural environment. Direct access to the surrounding landscape is provided by access doors located in each classroom with ample access to edible gardens, playing fields, hiking trails, woodlands, native landscaping, sitting circles, a green courtyards, playground and a picnic area in proximity to a pond for swimming and ice skating, and constructed wetland that naturally treats stormwater runoff. This provides an attractive, safe campus with simple and efficient traffic and pedestrian circulation, access to indoor and outdoor learning and recreation spaces with energy efficient classrooms at an affordable price.