BIG reveals plans for Virginia school that fans across its site

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Bjarke Ingels' firm has unveiled plans to build a school in Arlington, Virginia, featuring a fan-like plan that creates cascading roof terraces (+ slideshow).

The Wilson School, Arlington by BIG

Wilson Secondary School will comprise five storeys. But Copenhagen- and New York-based BIG wants it to feel like a single-storey block, so has arranged the floors so that they fan out from a single point, creating outdoor spaces above each level.

The Wilson School, Arlington by BIG

This arrayed plan is intended to help break up the massing of the 15,800-square-metre building, which will be located in a low-rise residential neighbourhood on the edge of the Rosslyn central business district.

The Wilson School, Arlington by BIG

"The school is designed across multiple levels in order to maintain open green space for recreation," said BIG in a statement.



"The building is designed as a series of classroom bars rotated along a single hinge point," it added. "The rotation creates cascading green terraces leading from the educational spaces of the school to the athletic field."

The Wilson School, Arlington by BIG

Each of the five classroom floors will lead straight out to a different terrace, increasing the opportunities for outdoor learning. According to BIG, each terrace will facilitate different activities.

The Wilson School, Arlington by BIG

The school auditorium and gymnasium, as well as other public spaces, will be slotted beneath the classroom blocks. These spaces will feature varying ceiling heights and will be accessible from the main street front, Wilson Boulevard.

The Wilson School, Arlington by BIG

The athletics field will be located on the opposite side of the site. Sunken courtyards and a covered entryway will be created in the two corners of the pitch by raising the ground into a slope.

The Wilson School, Arlington by BIG

Wilson Secondary School is the latest in a series of new US projects for BIG, which is also designing Google's new California headquarters in collaboration with Thomas Heatherwick, and the Two World Trade Center skyscraper in Manhattan.

The Wilson School, Arlington by BIG

The firm is also working on the Via 57 West "courtscraper" in New York, two twisting apartment blocks in Miami, a masterplan for Pittsburgh's Lower Hill District, and an office building in Philadelphia's Navy Yard.

The Wilson School, Arlington by BIG

The Wilson School, Arlington by BIG

The Wilson School, Arlington by BIG

The Wilson School, Arlington by BIG

The Wilson School, Arlington by BIG

The Wilson School, Arlington by BIG

The Wilson School, Arlington by BIG

  • Colonel Pancake

    This will surely be a heaping pile of the lowest tectonic quality, but I suspect kids will love the sh*t out of it, which is what ultimately matters.

    I would simply encourage them to vandalise as much of this building’s exterior as possible during recess. Don’t worry, I’ll get you out of detention.

    • Gee

      Why will it surely be a heaping pile of the lowest tectonic quality?

  • Without the diagrams this building is chaos.

  • James

    Hmm. I’m not going to judge until it is built but it looks great in plan.

    • mayy

      What plan? There isn’t one

  • Rafel

    It looks great, congratulations – but a school for teenagers needs also to be rather anti-vandalic, and there are A LOT of elements here that aren’t

  • Dbz123

    Wow! Hopefully this will raise the bar on the stagnated state of school design in the US. The process of designing a school is so incredibly complicated and the product so sterile and lifeless that I hope it will begin a wave of creative thinking applied to schools.