One day into the 2011-2012 school year, Tropical Storm Lee changed the community of Owego, New York forever. The district had four of its buildings completely destroyed by the 2011 flood and sustained significant damage to many others. One of the buildings destroyed was the original Owego Elementary.
In approaching the redesign, David Degnon, senior associate, Highland Associates, says the firm considered that a 120,000-square-foot building can be very overwhelming, especially to a 4-year-old going to school for the first time. In order to avoid long, tunnel-like corridors, the halls are bent and broken, creating intermittent learning spaces that are filled with natural daylight andviews of the outdoors. In fact, the design provides unobstructed views of the outdoors in more than 90 percent of the occupied spaces, an important consideration given that multiple studies prove students perform better with natural light and outside views.Owego follows the school design trend to include several multipurpose rooms: Staff want the flexibility of spaces that can be used at all times of the year, which means the glass must help manage solar heat gain and thermal performance year-round.