On Wednesday, January 10th VMDO architects presented their latest schemes for the Reed site, whch they have narrowed down to three options, which you can see below.
The “Integrated” option involves tearing down part of the existing Reed building and replacing it with a three new story building.
The “Upper/Lower” option involves keeping the existing Reed building for grades K-1, and building a brand new building to house grades 2-5
The “Standalone” option builds a brand new 735 seat school and leaves the existing Reed building untouched and its use unspecified.
In voting and ratings of the various schemes, members of the BLPC/PFRC committees have expressed a strong preference for the Integrated scheme.
The ful; presentation by VMDO can be found here: https://www.apsva.us/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/180110_REED_PFRCBLPC_Final.pdf
Some background: the existing building is less than optimal for any use other than the uses it was designed for nine years ago, e. g. small children on the first floor and mixed uses on the second floor. Attendees at the meeting were given a tour of the building which made its many deficiencies very clear. And because of extremely poor decisions by APS in the past, the existing building cannot be easily added on to. When the building was extensively remodeled nine years ago, the walls were made strong enough to hold the structure for one additional floor. But the roof was not made strong enough to hold the weight of floor decking for that additional floor. So if they add a second floor, the existing roof will need to be removed, exposing the interior to the elements, and new decking installed. It will neither be cheap nor easy, and the result would still be a shape which is far from optimal, especially for upper grade students.
For these reasons, and based partially on input from the committees, VMDO has set aside any schemes which build on top of the existing half-circle structure.
The Upper/Lower and Standalone schemes involve significant loss of green space, including, in the Standalone scheme, the loss of a county park. Preserving green space has long been a civic priority. Beyond that the Standalone scheme would result in more than 1000 students using the Reed site at two facilities. So we would have the existing traffic, plus 735 students and teachers and associated staff, at a site which also includes a heavily used public library and mixed use retail.
It is easy to imagine a scenario in which APS builds the standalone school, and then, at some point decides to again remodel the Reed building, and add a second floor or even an entirely new school.
On the other hand, Arlington County has and will continue to have significant overcrowding problems. A public school facility has to serve the public at large and not simply a specific neighborhood. Buildng a new school and leaving the Reed school as is would offer APS a high degree of flexibility and room for future expansion. The Integrated scheme impinges significantly on some neighbors on the north side of the site and builds a large structure out of scale with the neighborhood.
On Wednesday, January 17, at 6:30 in the Reed multipurpose room, there will be a public presentation by VMDO explaining the schemes and soliciting public feedback. We urge you to attend this meeting, to gain a better idea of what is being proposed and offer feedback on the ideas, both to VMDO and to APS.