Silver Spring, MD

Key Details:

Area: 125,000 sf

Completion:  Fall 2026

The new JoAnn Leleck Elementary School will replace the existing one-story school originally built in 1952 and serve 925 students. The nature-rich site is adjacent to the forest buffer of a branch of the Anacostia River and Broadacres Local Park. The design team held several bi-lingual meetings with an engaged community to understand their hopes and priorities. For this 21st-century educational facility, the design focuses on learning spaces that foster academic excellence, inclusion, community, and social-emotional wellness.

As students and families approach the school, they converge in an expansive plaza; a community space for impromptu teacher meetings, parent socializing, and outdoor learning.  The lobby is a glass-enclosed soaring space displaying flags of students’ home countries and large-scale color-changing lights – a grand stage set for the community space.

The architectural forms and colors are inspired by the texture and palette of the forest and sky and the energy of the activity in the surrounding space.  The design maximizes transparency and views taking advantage of the natural site elements.

Interior courtyards are quiet retreats for learning and restoration. Media center window cubbies provide individual havens between the hectic interior and the peaceful garden.

Designed as a net-zero building, Leleck will reach the sustainability goal set for new schools in the district. With photovoltaic panels, geothermal heating/cooling, a high-performance building envelope, and numerous energy-saving controls, energy used will be offset by the energy produced on site.