The Binghamton City School District’s new MacArthur Elementary building is set to open Monday. The school was destroyed by a flood in 2011.
The new building has a huge open lobby with soaring ceilings. Its three classroom wings are color-coded: yellow, red and green. There’s a gym and a new library. Binghamton Assistant Superintendent for Administration Karry Mullins says one feature of the new MacArthur hit her right away.
“The natural light and the windows in this building are incredible – floor-to-ceiling windows where even the youngest students can see outdoors,” she explains.
There’s another stand-out feature: stilts. The classroom wings are elevated to clear the floodplain because the school sits on the same riverside site where the former building flooded in 2011. Ashley McGraw Architects CEO Ed McGraw says the stilts also provide some extra benefits. McGraw’s firm designed the building.
“You now can actually see the river,” he says. “MacArthur used to just sit down in a bowl. There’s [also] an underside of these wings where the kids are going to be able to go outside all year round.”
The new school was designed for energy efficiency: McGraw says solar panels will provide about eighty percent of its electricity, and an on-site geothermal system aims to provide all the building’s heating. The school will also treat all of its own storm water.
In the four years since the flood, MacArthur students have been housed in two area Catholic schools, and principal Maria McIver has led a hectic life: “Living out of the trunk of my car and actually having a cardboard box that I would take from one school to the other,” she says.
McIver is eager to give that up. Grades three through five start at the new school Monday, and pre-k through second grade are set to arrive in January.