Battle Academy Elementary School
Hamilton County selected TWH/MBI to design the new Herman H Battle Academy situated on the corner of Main and Market Streets in Downtown Chattanooga. The building is one of the only two new urban schools undertaken by Hamilton County in many years.
The Problem: The site for Battle Academy was situated towards the southern end of Chattanooga’s Central Business District and consisted of only three acres (less than half the size of typical new elementary schools in the area). The new school was programmed to include a day care facility in addition to the typical kindergarten through fifth grade functions. Furthermore, the building had to be designed to serve as a community center as well as an elementary school. As multi-story elementary schools are the exception instead of the rule for Hamilton County, significant concern was also placed on safety and security issues. Finally, the entire design process had to be completed in little more than six months’ time.
The Solution: The building design is quite urban in nature and pays homage to surrounding structures of historical significance. Masonry detailing brings the scale of the building down the occupants’ level. Great care was taken throughout the design process to work of masonry modules and proportioning systems in the spirit of the Chicago School architects of the past. The building took on an “L” shape in an effort to maximize space available for parking and playgrounds while maintaining a hard street edge on two sides. The two-story school is divisible into two distinct parts functionally. One contains classrooms, administrative offices, and support spaces. The other portions house a large dining area, kitchen, indoor play/assembly space, and the library or media center. The second portion of the building is designed to serve the surrounding community after school hours and during the summer months, while the first remains accessible only to students and staff when school is in session.
Battle Academy is the first and only school in the area to offer a “green roof” where students will be able to cultivate plants and have other outdoor activities. The upper level of the school can be lit entirely by daylight, minimizing the need for artificial lighting during the daytime hours. The school’s daycare facility includes a separate covered and self-contained outdoor play area for the younger children.