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A year ago, the site of the Victory Villa Elementary School in Rosedale, Maryland, wasn’t much to look at. There was a lot of dirt, a frustrating amount of clay, and a few remnants of the old school — built as a temporary structure during World War II — that stuck it out much longer than originally intended.  

Now the steel is up, there’s a roof, the interior is framed, and there’s drywall and plumbing going into a brand-new facility. Once completed, the school will span more than 75,000 gross square feet. 

The project is more than halfway done and it’s really starting to take shape, says Bruce Johnson, Associate Principal with Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects. 

And the shape the school is taking is exciting. 

Much of the school’s campus is on a 100-year floodplain so instead of building out, they’re building up. 

Building up 

The new two-story school is dimensional, with angles popping in and out, catching your eye differently depending on where you’re standing. There’s brick already laid going up the façade, which will meet composite metal panels at the top. 

The entrance canopy that will welcome more than 700 students from the bus circle every day has been framed and leads to what Johnson calls the knuckle of the building. 

That knuckle, the main entrance and lobby, is what joins the two main building parts that make up the school. 

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Turn right from the knuckle and you’ll find the gym, cafeteria and music rooms. This section is just one floor but has high ceilings just as tall as the other building with two floors.  

Turn left from the knuckle and you’re met with two floors of classrooms. From the second floor you can access the school’s green roof. This second story terrace surrounds the gym side of the building and leads right over the school’s entrance. A high parapet will keep kids safe out there while they learn about weather, plants and solar energy in the outdoor educational space.  

Work on the green roof is just getting started. It’ll include an amphitheater with big concrete steps serving as seats in another of the school’s outdoor spaces. 


Reaching the finish line 

It’s a busy time, Johnson says. Murphy & Dittenhafer’s designers are confirming final interior finishings like carpeting, tile, and paint colors. But the finish line is in sight. The school is set to welcome children into their new building at the start of the 2018-2019 school year. 

“There’s some real excitement of being able to open the doors to the people who will occupy it and use it,” Bruce says. “It’s a lifelong thrill to know you had something to do with that. It’s what I like about being an architect.”