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  • Type Renovation / Addition
  • Services Architecture, Graphics, Interiors
  • Size 130,000 SF
  • Budget $13 Million
  • Awards LEED Gold, AIA Eastern PA

Designed by Easton’s first professional architect William Michler, the building now known as Paxinosa Elementary School was built in 1925 as Easton High School. In the 1950s, the school became a middle school with a full renovation completed in 1974. By 2005, the building was renamed Paxinosa Elementary School and began serving Easton Area School District’s youngest student population from kindergarten to fifth grade. Paxinosa sits along Northampton Street in Easton’s West Ward, a densely-populated neighborhood just outside downtown that has a reputation as the city’s roughest. Street violence and a lack of adequate parks have positioned the school as a safe space for many students and their families. The community school is a resource for residents who use the spaces for academics, arts, meetings and celebrations.

At 130,000 SF, the building itself was a patchwork of dated renovations, none of which were right-sized for elementary student needs. Modular classrooms built in 2001 were among the school’s most sought-after spaces as they featured the most modern technology. Hallways were filled with unused lockers and little ones had to climb stepstools to reach water fountains. Teachers lacked adequate space for storage, organization and collaboration. Technology throughout the building was outdated. Renovation of Paxinosa is rooted in simplicity with a goal of correcting planning issues inherent to Pennsylvania’s older school buildings. Modern elementary teaching methods call for a clustering of grades, so Paxinosa’s space was reconfigured to allow for team teaching and group activity.

Along the wall just inside the main entrance is a large graphic mural of Chief Paxinosa, a Shawnee leader after whom the neighborhood school is named. A totally redesigned administration suite provides a secure single point of entrance into the building while creating a welcoming atmosphere for the community. Integral to this redesign is a new Paxinosa school seal that reflects the now modern tone of the building and marks the building’s rededication as Aug. 15, 2017.

Each grade cluster is assigned an identifying color and graphic indicator which serves as wayfinding signage to the youngest students still learning their ABCs. Fifth grade’s color, for example, is Easton Red to match the district’s logo color and allow for a smooth transition for the students moving on to middle school next year.

The old school layout buried kindergarten classrooms in a basement hallway with no connection to any other grades or area of the building. This isolation was corrected with the opening of a new wide and bright corridor connected to the administration suite.

Individual classrooms were enhanced with modern technology and new casework, giving teachers the freedom to implement methods to reach all types of learners. Existing vinyl composite tile throughout the building was replaced with terrazzo tile and carpet tile. Art and music rooms were energized with splashes of bright color to emphasize the activity in each space.

One of the most important aspects of this project was to revitalize this building and revitalize it
with the young learner in mind.
Superintendent John Reinhart

The $13 million renovation resulted in a LEED certification and the district received a $2 million Alternative & Clean Energy Program grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.