Owego Elementary School

Project Type: K-12 Education

Location: Owego, NY

Services: Architecture, Engineering, Interior Design

Size: 124,000 SF


Just one day into the 2011-2012 school year, Tropical Storm Lee forever changed the community of Owego, NY. The Owego Apalachin Central School District lost a total of four buildings to flooding and sustained significant damage to others.

With assistance from FEMA, the new 124,000 square-foot Owego Elementary School was rebuilt on the existing site, now raised above the flood plain. Design elements drew inspiration from Owego’s story—a community strengthened by hardship through collaboration, persistence and resolve. The interior design features patterns with connected and interlocking pieces representing the importance of unity. Bold, confident colors and strong shapes were offset by warm woods and organic textures to offer inspiration and a nurturing environment for students. More than 90 percent of the occupied spaces provide access to unobstructed views of the outdoors. The main corridor features sculptural ceiling panels resembling ripples on water, an architectural nod to the influence of water on the region, representing both the fluid motion of the element and progress. The architectural design features roof lines set at varied heights intended to limit massing while minimizing the imposing scale of the structure. The new elementary school is both warm and welcoming to its young students, faculty, and staff.

Sustainable design elements include exterior materials such as bluestone, masonry, and metal panel, among others, that were harvested, extracted and manufactured within a 500-mile radius of the school. To minimize the heat island effect, the building’s roof system is designed to reflect, rather than absorb, solar radiation. An energy-efficient geothermal system comprised of 287 wells located under adjacent soccer fields heats and cools the school while energy efficient LED lighting, controlled at the classroom level, is incorporated throughout.

This project has achieved LEED Gold Certification.

This project was published in American School & University's 2016 issue.