John Meaney, RLA, ASLA

Landscape Architect



Frederick County Middle School

Frederick County, Virginia


An inspired team of educators, parents and citizens worked with designers to develop a building and site program that will be an educational and community asset to rural Gainesboro, VA.  Site conditions required design and programming to respond to the challenging topographic and hydrological structure of the site. Due to its location, a number of sustainable strategies were employed to minimize the impacts of impervious surfaces and manage wastewater introduced by the project.


Stormwater collected from multiple areas of the roof is directed to above ground cisterns used forirrigation of the courtyard plantings and assist in managing stormwater quantities.  Rain gardens associated with each of the cisterns located at the end of each of the three classroom wings provide overflow stormwater management. In addition, site development included the design of a system of stepped channels and weir walls that guide stormwater gathered from impervious areas through a series of vegetated swales to a large rain garden. The swales negotiate significant grade changes, creating pockets of habitat, helping to manage stormwater impacts and providing opportunities for environmental studies tied to classroom learning.


A constructed wetland was designed to treat all waste generated on site. A wildflower meadow associated with the wastewater treatment process is part of a layered planting strategy within the outdoor learning courtyards and throughout the site that connects the school to the site’s woodland/field history and context. A variety of native plants help to frame spaces that:  serve as outdoor classrooms; offer opportunities to study native fauna and ecosystems; or exist as quiet places for sketching, reading or reflection.


All of these amenities are neatly integrated within a system of athletic fields, play courts and walking/exercise trails that serve the greater community.




Construction: Completion February of 2016

Site Area: 28.3 Acres

Construction Cost: $49,500,000

LEED Certification: Platinum

Project A/E Team: Santec (formerly SHW Architects), Greenway Engineering, 2rw Consultants, Inc.

Awards: 2014 Central Virginia AIA Award for Excellence