Sidwell Friends School is a private pre-K through12th grade institution in Washington, D.C. founded in 1883 on Quaker principles. As a prominent institution—and alma mater to several children of U.S. presidents—the school embraced the opportunity to boldly promote sustainability in the design of their Middle School Building’s renovation and addition. Drawing upon the Quaker values of environmental stewardship and social responsibility through action, the school set the ambitious goal of achieving LEED NC Platinum certification. It ultimately became the first LEED Platinum K-12 building in the country.
The project scope consisted of renovating the 55-year-old, 33,500-square-foot building and constructing a 39,000-square-foot addition. Material reuse provided a prominent unifying element, aesthetically linking the exteriors of both wings through a reclaimed cedar panel system of vertical fins that protect the interior spaces from excessive heat gain. Reclaimed greenheart, a durable tropical hardwood, flows from the outside decking to the floor of the entry lobby, linking the natural environment outdoors to the learning environment inside.
From the outset, the Middle School building was intended to serve as a learning tool. Through integration of environmental sustainability lessons into the curriculum and green building tours offered to the public, the project educates students and others about environmental building practices. Reclaimed materials form an important part of this story, providing a tangible statement of the school’s commitment to sustainability.
Reclaimed Materials (by application): Wood/Lumber
Additional Design for Reuse Highlights
— The architect, KieranTimberlake, collaborated with sustainability consultant GreenShape and the client to generate an overall material strategy that balanced conceptual and aesthetic desires with LEED Platinum requirements.
— The design team deliberately used reclaimed materials in highly visible applications, such as the wood panel façade, to emphasize connections to local habitat and demonstrate the school’s dedication to environmental stewardship.
— Armster Reclaimed Lumber Company joined the team early, during the design development phase. They offered insight into available types and sources of reclaimed wood as well as provided samples and mockups that played a significant role in detailing. KieranTimberlake originally designed the cedar fins to be 7/8″ thick, but at Armster’s suggestion, they decreased the thickness to ¾” to reduce cost and waste.
— The bidding process for reclaimed lumber was a “sole sourcing” arrangement, with Armster Lumber as the designated supplier. Armster assumed responsibility for procurement, storage, and transportation of wood products to the site or the fabricator.
— Several subcontractors were hesitant to procure materials outside of their traditional sources. HITT Contracting was able to alleviate their concerns by purchasing certain reclaimed materials for the subcontractors’ use.
— Reclaimed materials include 100-year-old Western red cedar from wine tanks that form the exterior fins on the façade, greenheart pilings from Baltimore Harbor that provide exterior decking and entry lobby flooring, and old Douglas fir bleachers that gain new life as window trim.
— Over 40,000 board feet of reclaimed wood was incorporated into the project. In total, reclaimed materials represented over 9% of the overall materials costs.
Key Project Information
Location: Washington, D.C.
Year Completed: 2006
Client: Sidwell Friends Middle School
Contractor: HITT Contracting Inc.
Structural Engineer: CVM Engineers
Sustainability Consultant: GreenShape LLC, Integrative Design Collaborative
Reuse Consultant: Armster Reclaimed Lumber Company, CitiLogs
Sidwell Friends School Website