Bjarke Ingels Group just unveiled plans for a new school in Arlington, Virginia that looks unlike any high school we’ve ever seen in the country. The new Wilson Secondary School will be a five-story school that appears to fan out on a pivot into five terraced floors. The innovative fan-like layout creates space for a series of outdoor landscape terraces used for a variety of purposes, from rooftop solar to raised vegetable beds.
Located near the edge of the Rosslyn central business district, the 15,800-square-meter Wilson Secondary School is designed to feel like a one-story building while still reaping the spatial advantages of a five-story structure. BIG began their design process by splitting the site into three main uses: a street-level athletics field; “a stack of typically classroom bars;” and a space for civic use. The architects then fanned out the classroom “bars” on a pivot to create five rotated and accessible terraces that step down to the recreational field.
Each of the rooftop terraces will be accessible from the indoor classrooms and programmed for different activities. The school auditorium, gymnasium, and civic spaces are tucked beneath the terraced blocks; a pathway leads from those spaces to the athletics field on the opposite side of the site. The field will be graded so that one corner will be sunken, while the other will be raised to create a covered entryway.