The Loft was designed for the arts and drama program of this small, private, very progressive K-8 elementary school in Alexandria, VA. Founded in the mid 1940’s with a John Dewey ‘project based’ learning curriculum, the campus occupied an existing farm sited on a hillside where the agricultural buildings were retrofitted to accommodate the program of the school. The new building stretches out along the top of a slope to define the main outside central space into which all paths from other parts of the campus converge.
A porch extends along the entire interface of the building with this exterior space. At its the south end, the porch becomes the main threshold to the campus. The porch then connects to the main theater and arts classroom spaces to wrapping around the north side of the building where it presents the view down into the landscape. The theater is flanked by the entrance lobby, art gallery, and drama practice room, with the music rooms to the south.
The lower level is reached by an internal stair off the gallery lobby space, or by and exterior stair from the north deck to a lower deck on the east side. These lower level art rooms and shop open up to the view down the descending hill below and access a generous deck that serves as an outdoor expansion space for painting, drawing, and sculpting. There are also connecting paths at this lower deck level to the ‘middle school’ located to the southwest.