Almost immediately after acquiring Riverdale School, the newly formed Germantown Municipal School District decided not only to replace the portables with a permanent facility for grades 6–8, but also to use GMSD’s first major capital project as a catalyst for instructional shifts across the entire school district. GMSD partnered with the City of Germantown to engage key stakeholders in the design process — faculty, parents, and teachers. GMSD walked away with three key initiatives a result of that collaboration:
- Unprecedented Aesthetic Emphasis
The best learning spaces require more than just a functional building. Riverdale School features sleek, modern fixtures, pops of color, and glass walls along the length of each corridor — design elements that inspire students, engage staff, and lead to ultimately greater academic outcomes.
- Blended Learning Opportunities
Cutaways with bench seating allow students to collaborate in the halls. An outdoor classroom overlooks the school’s rain garden. The state-of-the art STEM lab has 3-D printing capabilities. Each classroom is equipped with Apple TV. From landscaping to seating arrangements, facility design encourages students to think outside the box.
- Energy Efficiency + Sustainable Design
Riverdale School was designed at the intersection of cost efficiency and long-term value. Ample use of natural light throughout the building allows for moderation of the LED lighting installed in each room — a practice called “light harvesting.”
A2H designed a $12 million expansion, totaling more than 60,000 square feet. The architectural design intent was to create a brand for the aesthetic of Germantown Municipal Schools moving forward — a design standard unprecedented for schools in Shelby County.
“We like to say that we didn’t design this building, teachersJosh Cathey, Chief of Operations – GMSD
designed this building, parents designed this building.”
Themes include pops of vibrant color as a wayfinding element, cost-efficient metal panels, alternating shades of brick, and floor-to-ceiling windows. Adjustable and daylight harvesting LED light fixtures, coupled with floor-to-ceiling windows, create a classroom atmosphere unique to any school in Shelby County and add to the educational experience in both quality and sustainability. Glass panels on each side illuminate classrooms and hallways and create ambient lighting throughout the space.
Construction was designed to be completed in two phases to avoid conflict with the existing staff parking, main entrance, and drop off area. Priority was placed on the relocation of the staff parking lot and reconfiguration of the dropoff line to optimize traffic/bus patterns.
“We have to think beyond the box, beyond just square footage.
What’s special about this project is that it truly has an impact on instruction.”
Jason Manual, Superintendent – GMSD