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Terraset Elementary School

Metal Panels Figure Prominently Into School Building's Thoughtful Renovation

Respecting the Character of an Elementary School with an Updated Design and Expanded Space

Terraset Elementary School in Reston, VA, opened in 1977, at a time when open classroom layouts were in and fewer students needed the learning space. To meet the needs of today’s students, the design team and school administrators set out to transform the school with a traditional concept that involved renovation and expansion. While Fairfax County does not require schools to follow LEED certification, sustainable principles were used with a focus on material durability and mechanical system efficiency. This served as a natural extension of the school’s original energy-conservative concept that included a unique "earth-cover" system. Citadel Architectural Products’ Envelope 2000® Deep-Reveal (DRV) System fit into the school district’s cost-effective sustainable plan while both updating the building and respecting its architectural character.

“The original building was conceived as an energy-conservative building and became an immediate point of interest in northern Virginia,” says Rusty Shaw, AIA, senior vice president of Architecture, Incorporated, Reston. “The modernization reaffirms the revolutionary nature of Terraset’s creation, a school ‘set in the earth.’ It is a re-imagined education environment that celebrates its notable architectural heritage. This commitment to maintaining the integrity of the original design while adding new signature design elements is unique and noteworthy. The school principal’s enthusiasm for the design process and resulting facility is genuine and reflects the level of accolades the project has received.”

Like many renovation projects, the first obstacle was site restrictions. To overcome this, the additions were designed to protrude narrowly from the original footprint. Some exterior walls and the grass (earth-covered) roof were left intact, and the 70,000-square-foot interior was modified and reconfigured. The exterior entry courtyard was enclosed, and two bridges were replaced with a pedestrian bridge covered by a canopy that is reminiscent of the original 1970s solar panel array.

Early in the design process, metal panels were selected for the new exterior because of their durability and aesthetics. Envelope 2000 is on a large band at the top of the original school and two rooftop pavilions that were added to portions of the school. Metal panels also serve as a backdrop for the building’s signature feature—the entry canopy.

Interstate Corp., Gaithersburg, MD, installed 10,000 square feet of Envelope 2000 DRV in Champagne Metallic. The Citadel representative was ABC Supply Co. Envelope 2000 is a 4-mm-thick MCM with a durable, 0.105-inch thermoset phenolic resin core that provides an ultra-smooth substrate for the aluminum skin. The system allows incidental moisture to enter and then exit through weepholes. DRV has a deeper profile to simulate the look of a fabricated system with even greater detail. With several DRV installation method options, truly unique panel effects can be created.

Envelope 2000 also helps contribute to the effort of LEED certification with a portion of the material coming from recycled content. It is manufactured in Indianapolis, and the panels have a Kynar 500® paint finish that is warranted for 30 years; anodized finishes are warranted for 20 years.

“Metal was selected for its durability as well as its aesthetics. It is a versatile cladding material appropriate for both the original façade and several elements added to the building,” Shaw says. “Citadel was selected because of the architectural quality of the reveal between panels and the availability of large panel sizes, which allowed us to complement the massing of the building while adding visual interest.”

This was a phased construction project, and the school remained fully functioning and occupied for each phase. The new portions of the school include an administrative addition at the front entrance, a library, more classrooms, a fine arts addition for art and music, and a School Age Child Care addition. The existing student dining facility was expanded and updated to accommodate more students.

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About Citadel Architectural Products Inc.

Citadel logoCitadel Architectural Products, Inc. is a manufacturer of composite panels and systems for the commercial cladding industry. With one of the most complete selections in the industry, products range from high-end fabricated metal composite material (MCM) to field-assembled systems and glazing infill panels. This offering is supported by a commitment to quality and customer service, delivered by an ISO 9001 registered management system, and backed by nearly 50 years of experience. To learn more, call (800) 446-8828 or visit

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