Virginia, Minnesota

North Star Elementary

Contrary to the wooded setting of Rock Ridge Public Schools’ other new facilities, Laurentian Elementary School and Rock Ridge High School, North Star Elementary is designed to reflect the more urban environment of downtown Virginia, Minnesota.  

Sited on a large city block that formerly housed the District’s elementary and high school, North Star Elementary stands at three stories tall, minimizing its building footprint and reclaiming greenspace—a longstanding desire of the surrounding community. 

The school features a variety of collaborative learning spaces and open concept classrooms outfitted with state-of-the-art technology and teaching resources. On the building’s second floor above the main commons area, students can extend their learning outdoors via a unique, open air learning patio.  

This project was designed in collaboration with Architectural Resources, Inc. 

Client: Rock Ridge Public Schools

Market: Education

Size: 71,000 Square Feet

Scope: New Construction

Services: Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture

Delivery Method: Construction Manager as Adviser

Key Project Contacts:

North Star

Combining nature and play 

Around the perimeter of the block, berms are added to create a natural barrier for students outside. Planted as prairie in some areas and forest in others, these berms are connected by a meandering sensory trail. By designing the site in this way, designers created an open field, playground, natural play areas, and large plaza with outdoor learning nooks and community space. Wi-Fi covers the entire site to promote classes to explore and learn outdoors.