After masterplanning and designing a temporary campus for North Charleston Creative Arts Elementary School in 2011, SMHa, in coordination with Craig Gaulden Davis, ultimately designed this new 80,000-square-foot building. Completed in 2016, NCCAE is an arts-infused partial magnet school offering visual and performing arts curriculum to students in grades K-5. The school has a designated arts wing containing rooms for art, drama, chorus, instrumental music, and a dance studio. A centrally located art gallery is used to exhibit student artwork. In keeping with the arts theme, the interiors are colorful and whimsical to encourage creativity and inspire the students.
The new construction occurred while school remained in session in the original building on campus. This required a carefully detailed schedule and significant planning to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the students and staff. The design team worked closely with Charleston County School District and the Program Manager to develop plans to minimize the impact on students, families, and staff.
As North Charleston Creative Arts is located in an area that was growing and undergoing redevelopment at the same time the school was in design and construction, the design team worked with Cumming/Brownstone to conduct a series of community and parent input meetings. These meetings were instrumental in keeping the neighbors and school families informed about the school plans and the benefits that the new construction would bring to the community.