SENTIENT live edge dining table

St. Albans School / Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

© Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

In 2006, with its centennial approaching, St. Albans School, a private boys’ school founded in 1909, decided to embark upon its first new construction project in nearly 30 years. The institution hired Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) to complete a 25,000-square-foot expansion and 30,00-square-foot of renovations to provide a student center, new classrooms, faculty offices, library and auditorium. The school, which had developed slowly over the years and did not follow a rational plan, also hoped that the architects could create a cohesive linkage between four of its existing buildings.


SOM looked to St. Albans’ context for inspiration. The school is located on Mount St. Albans, which is the highest elevation in the D.C. area, and on the grounds of the National Cathedral, which were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. The landscape architect conceived of the cathedral’s surroundings as a cathedral close, outlining a network of garden walkways that he called “pilgrim paths.” These paths guide visitors slowly up the forested hill, revealing framed views of important D.C. landmarks along the way before terminating at the cathedral.

planting plan © Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

SOM developed an architectural language around the idea of Olmsted’s paths, creating a series of interior and exterior passages that rise 60 feet, joining St. Albans’ lower campus with its main entrance above. Along this route, , there are gathering areas, whether within enclosed, cantilevered volumes or open-air terrace, offering views of the surroundings and the major landmarks of the Nation’s Capitol. The new extension, at the heart of the campus, seamlessly interconnects disparate internal floor levels and external public spaces, creating better physical and visual connections to the Cathedral, enhancing views to central Washington, and improving circulation sequences. The design shuns the typical campus architecture of enclosed quads in favor of interconnectivity with the landscape.

© Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

The new building itself, known as Marriott Hall, is a three-story modernist building that also very carefully establishes a familial relationship to the neo-Gothic architecture of the existing campus. SOM accomplished this by cladding much of the exterior with a blue stone that closely resembles the Potomac stone used in the original 1909 buildings. Terraced walkways provide places for students to gather and interact on campus, an important part of the institution’s educational philosophy. They also provide direct egress from the building at multiple levels, allowing SOM to forgo fire doors and stairs.

© Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

The classrooms themselves are clad in floor-to-ceiling glass. The architects carefully controlled the daylight in the interior by installing a light shelf eight feet up the glass wall. Below that point, the glass has a ceramic frit at 30 percent density; above, the glass is clear. This mitigates glare and heat gain, while allowing full sunlight to bounce off the shelf and turn the ceiling into an indirect reflector. Fluorescent lamps atop the shelf ensure that day or night classrooms receive the same degree of illumination.



Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>
alireza yavari portfolio alireza yavari ecommerce resources alireza yavari ecommerce newsletter alireza yavari ecommerce blog alireza yavari qusations and answers alireza yavari raika design calligraphy

Log in
(Not a member?)
Sign up now

Alireza Yavari

About Me
My Resume
Ongoing Projects


Design Portfolio
Website Templates
Internet Graphics
Package design
Flash and Animations
E-Commerce Website
Modern Calligraphy
Furniture & Interior design


Join the free
E-Commerce Newsletter

Learn E-Commerce
E-commrce Blog
Videos & Images
Useful Resources
Quastions & Answers

Leisure & Fun
My Reading
My Watching
My Favoraite Websites
My Photos

Contact Me

Be my friend


alireza yavari designer ecommerce specialist  Web Graphic Designer E-commerce Specialist Web Strategist Today's Design in a Glance The Art of Running an Internet Business, Web Design and Development, Internet Marketing Win a Free Extreme Website Makeover, AAA E-Commerce Solutions LLC, Design and Developpment of Websites, Web Marketing Planning