Plains Elementary School completed construction, opened for classes, and has received a Merit Award from the Western Massachusetts Chapter of the American Society of Architects. Design of this pre-K through 1st grade school in the town of South Hadley was led by Jones Whitsett Architects, with landscape architecture by Dodson & Flinker.
The design team sited the new building at the edge of the site to protect the edge of woods and existing terrain, while maximizing solar gain. The landscape design incorporates the surrounding woods and landform into a nature playground, and uses stormwater as an educational element through a system of rain gardens, bioswales, and a cistern. The playground is fully accessible and addresses a full range of types of play from embankment slides, forts, sandboxes, sensory gardens, labyrinth, swings, covered play, tricycle loop, raised planting beds, an outdoor classroom, stage, seating areas, climbing logs, and net structures.