Swansea Elementary School

A multi-phased renovation and addition informed by a sustained community outreach process that benefits the school and community.

5,100 SF Addition | 64,044 SF Renovation


Denver, CO

2019 Mountain and Plains Planning Design Award, A4LE Rocky Mountain Chapter

Denver Public Schools

Swansea Elementary School was built in 1957, replacing a turn of the century schoolhouse. In 1964, the construction of the Interstate 70 six-lane viaduct set the stage for a bifurcated community, Elyria-Swansea. Today, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is reconfiguring this interstate; lowering the highway for a two mile stretch and creating a lid over the property adjacent to the school, to be used for public open space and shared fields. CDOT and Denver Public Schools (DPS) have formed a partnership for the exchange of land and renovation of the school. AMD was retained to facilitate the renovation and addition intended to improve the facility and to mitigate impacts of an expected five-year construction duration for the highway reconstruction.

Navigating complex timelines, phasing, and logistical requirements, the realized project is the outcome of an in-depth community outreach process, tailored to support the community by giving them the opportunity to help shape the school’s future. A design advisory group was formed, comprised of school administrators, teachers, parents, staff, and the design team. Objectives identified by the group included planning a phased construction that kept the school fully operational throughout while communicating a process to families to help them understand the goals for the work. Project goals also included developing a vision that respects the heritage of the site and community and highlights the opportunity for the school to strengthen its place as a beacon to the community, a central gathering area, and a resource for families. Relocating the entry as the clear “front door” allowed the school to address and oversee an interim playground and grounds configuration, while signaling they are the clear keeper of the new park over the highway, shared by the school and community.

The resulting addition and renovation realized these objectives while minimizing disruption to the school and its extended community. The design revitalizes the existing structure and reorients the school to engage with the new playground and planned community open space. Learning and play spaces are designed as flexible and inspiring environments with new opportunities inside and outside the building to connect and build community.

“For an owner to achieve true success on a project, it is important to look beyond the concrete, bricks and mortar. I place a great emphasis on our Architect’s integrity, trust, honesty and humility. AMD embraced this project from the very beginning and embraced the community in which it serves with these core values. With anticipation, we can only look to the future of Swansea ES with the creation of this greatly improved learning environment designed by our Architect who meticulously and methodically made our vision become reality.”

Emma Grogan
Project Manager, Denver Public Schools

“AMD exceeded our expectations by demonstrated ability to manage scope, schedule and budget while designing functional, pleasing spaces that not only serve the students and staff but will serve the community at large.”

Emma Grogan, Denver Public Schools

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