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Concepts for New MacArthur Building to be Considered by Alexandria School Board
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Concepts for New MacArthur Building to be Considered by Alexandria School Board

Two concepts for the new Douglas MacArthur Elementary School building will go to the School Board for consideration this week.

The two concepts — named “Y” and “Forest” for identification purposes — were narrowed down from five original proposed concepts following input and feedback form the Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group and the wider community.

Last week, three concepts were shown to the Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group, MacArthur staff and the wider community at three separate meetings and an open house, during which the consensus was a preference for either the Y concept or the Forest. There was consensus among the community and staff not to move forward a third concept, the Coil.

The Coil was the most expensive option of the three concepts presented to the community at the January meetings. Staff had concerns that this curved-wall concept was not as functional as they would like it to be.

Community and staff preferences for the Y concept and the Forest concept will be shared with the School Board as part of this discussion on the concepts. Both concepts comply with staff and community desires for the new building, as compiled through Advisory Group sessions in the fall.

During these sessions staff and the community expressed a wish for a community school feel with open space for children to play both inside and outside school hours. They also wanted a school that capitalized on the wooded area to the back of the school and brought the sense of nature into the building.

The topic of exploring co-location options was also discussed at both the December and January Advisory Group meetings and community meetings.

Options for co-location could include additional recreation space, affordable or workforce housing, or added health services, co-located on the site with Douglas MacArthur Elementary School. ACPS and the City intend to explore feasible and appropriate co-location opportunities within the chosen concept, although the ACPS educational program for the new school will take priority.

The City’s Director of Planning and Zoning Karl Moritz attended the December meeting to present the City’s ideas of co-location to the community. City staff have continued to attend and respond to questions at more recent meetings.

Any feedback on the concepts can be emailed to newmacarthur@acps.k12.va.us.

Follow the project’s progress on the Douglas MacArthur Modernization Projects Updates page.

The School Board will vote on one concept at their meeting on Feb. 6, 2020. After the selection has been made, ACPS will begin the Development Special Use Permit process with the City.

The design will continue to evolve, even once a concept has been approved, as DLR Group architects continue to flesh it out through June 2020.

The new school is expected to open doors in January 2023.