Celebrating Heartwood Annex at the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh
The Waldorf School of Pittsburgh community gathered virtually and in person to celebrate the official opening of its new eighth-grade classroom building, Heartwood Annex, during its annual May Fair last weekend. It was the first opportunity for parents and many students to tour the new classroom.
The classroom’s name emerged from an exploratory process with students, who were inspired by heartwood as the strongest part of a tree. The 1,000 square-foot project occupies a central place on the Waldorf School’s campus, facing onto the primary green space adjacent to its main building, a city-designated historic landmark.
The design responds to the school’s emphasis on authenticity and health as well as its embrace of outdoor areas for educational opportunities. While integrating meandering pathways to celebrate the school’s outdoor environment, we preserved existing trees onsite and created an outdoor stage for open-air performances and events.
The use and varied application of wood became a key element of the design process, both as a signature element — as in the graceful curve of the classroom’s east side, accomplished with untreated, live-edge hemlock — and in more detailed moments, like casework built from a storm-damaged pin oak felled onsite. Providing a tactile resource for teaching eighth graders about sustainable design, the project is also pursuing Core Green Building Certification with the International Living Future Institute.
Read more about the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh eighth-grade classroom below.