Eighth Grade Classroom Building at the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Located in the heart of Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield neighborhood, the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh is an independent, K-8 school serving the greater Pittsburgh community. The School is housed in a Victorian-era mansion on a two-acre campus, and is home to more than 200 students and faculty.
The eighth grade Classroom project developed from a need to meet the school’s expanding student enrollment. The Classroom is a 1,000 SF stand-alone structure, designed to house the 25-person eighth grade class, and includes the main teaching space as well as support space such as a mudroom, cubbies, restrooms, and storage.
Based on the Waldorf principles, the educational development of eighth grade students is focused on strengthening independence and thinking beyond themselves as they explore the outside world. Therefore, the building is intentionally situated away from the main schoolhouse. The massing of the classroom is simple yet thoughtful, with the service bar lining the south edge and the teaching space opening to the north. A gently arced wall delineates the perimeter of the interior teaching space, yet physiologically connects the students to the outdoors. Playing off the shape of the exterior pathway, this wall forms a gesture of embrace around the beloved outdoor green space, which doubles as an amphitheater during large school events.
In keeping with the school’s emphasis on authenticity and health, the materials palette is muted and natural. The service bar is cladded in a horizontal cement board siding, while the arced north-northeast wall is sheathed in live-edge hemlock siding. The interior is warm and inviting with wood casework built from a large pin oak felled on site.
To showcase (and teach) sustainable building practices and promote healthy learning environments, the Classroom is pursuing Core Green Building Certification with the International Living Future Institute.