Sidwell Friends School, Washington, DC

KieranTimberlake Architecture Office, 2006

55 year old Sidwell Friends School went through some changes on its buildings with KieranTimberlake Architecture. Asistant manager Mike Saxenian describes the transition process,”We began designing a building, then it turned into a green And this green building change the culture of the school and the way it works.”

Sidwell Friends Scool is the first K-12 building that was qualified for LEED Platine certification thanks to the sustainable implementations conducted. The project was also deemed for honor award by American Institute of Architects and”Sustainable Design” award by Boston Society of Architects.

The architect Stephen Kieran states that the most tough step of the project was agreeing on aesthetic expectations with the client. On the layout plan of Sidwell Friends School which spreads over 6,736 m2, you can see the existing and new buildings with their change during the project. The project ensured the unity between the existing and new buildings with the potential of landscape designing. The design which shows regard to environmental, social and ethical values aims to highlight the academic life given importance by the school with its long-term vision.

Water circulation

The small and impractical structure of the building that was reconstructed was transformed into an education area inside and outside of which education is practiced. Kieran says that their aim, since the beginning of the project, was to create a living machine. Rain water is collected on green roof and carried over biological pond, rain gardens and water tanks with channels. And from there, it is recycled inside the building as greywater. Wetland in the courtyard of the school contributes the greywater by recycling the whole wastewater; this provides 94% water saving. In this way, students can see how wetlands clean water by measuring and comparing the values of nitrogen and phosphorus in water.

During the process of renewal, they take the local geology, nature and river basins into account. 80 species of local plants were used in landscape designing after applying”micro-ecosystem restoration” on green areas. Landscape architect José Alminana states that the biodiversity of the project became a new part of the school’s structure and curriculum. The students are encouraged to attend activities to get closer to the nature. Those who make observations on wild life report the state of their garden with notes and photos.

Biological Cladding

100-year-old western red cedar used in cladding acts like a biological skin and takes in or prevents various environmental elements according to the varying factors. Interior structure blocks the rain water, while ensuring the air circulation. Moreover, exterior structure supports the control of sunlight according to the sun. On the north façade, the sunlight is directly taken in through long windows without the need to prevent. Horizontal screens placed on windows provided efficient usage on the south façade.And the vertical solar shading screens on the east and west façades are angled appropriately against the east and west glare.

High-quality shades out of redwing were produced in somewhere else and then moved and mounted in the construction site, to speed up the process. During the interior restoration of the existing building three waste bins were present for the recyclable materials in the site. These bins that were put there during construction were used to decrease wasting.

There is a central energy source that serves the whole campus in order to make it easier to control energy resources and to rise awareness about energy consumption among students. 5% of the energy consumption is provided by photovoltaic panels. Thermal chimneys were used in passive ventilation system which doesn’t require energy. These thermal chimneys of glass on the roof heats the air inside with sunlight. The cold air that comes in through the windows facing the north façade Furthermore, students can observe the air movement thanks to the access provided to the chimneys and wind-bells throughout the building. The greened roof was also designed as outdoor class to encourage students for gardening. With this roof system, the”heat-island” effect was also decreased.

Teachers shape the way of education regarding the materials and system thanks to the curriculum integrated to the school. The school is provided with the opportunity to educate the students in practice on from the cork flooring and bamboo used in the building and the effects of usage of light. The dashboard in the school lets each individual be aware of his/her contribution to decreasing of carbon footprint by showing graphs of resource consumption. Reading, writing and discussion events about environment are hold together with the students to create a social awareness and a relation between the outer world and the construction systems is established.

Sidwell Friends SchoolProject Team

Client:Sidwell Friends School


Project Team:Stephen Kieran, James Timberlake, Amy Floresta, Christopher MacNeal, Dana Reed, Richard Hodge, Gabe Biller, Casey Boss, Marcel Botticelli, Brian Carney, Jonathan Ferrari, Jeff Goldstein, Steven Johns, Isaiah King, Snezana Litvinovic, Sam Robinson Tricia Stuth, Seth, Trance, Paul Worrell

Client Representative:JFW Project Management

Structural Engineer:CVM Engineers

MEP Engineer:Bruce Brooks& Associates

Landscape Architect:Andropogon Associates, Ltd..

Wetland Consultant:Natural Systems International

Sustainable Design Consultant: GreenShape LLC, Integrative Design Collaborative

Surveyor: A.Morton Thomas and Associates

Civil Engineer: VIKA, Inc.

Geotechnician: ECS Mid-Atlantic, LLC

Lighting Consultant: Sean O’Connor Associates Lighting Consultants, LLC, Benya Lighting Desing

Acoustics: Shen Milsom Wilke

Contractor: Hitt Contracting, Inc.

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