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Heartwood Annex (Core Green Building)

The 8th Grade Classroom project developed from a need to meet our school’s expanding student enrollment, while remaining true to Waldorf principles. Designed to be Net Zero ready, the project is currently targeting Core Green Building Certification with the International Living Future Institute. This addition to our campus provides an ideal environment where our older students thrive.

A Building in Harmony with the Earth and its Resources

About the Building

Natural, Sustainable Materials

  • Regionally sourced hemlock at exterior north wall

  • Sustainably harvested plywood at ceiling and exterior soffits

  • Interior casework on window seat made with wood from large pin oak felled on-site after a storm

  • Cement board rain screen assembly

  • Interior doors and hardware procured through local door salvaging company

  • Slate chalkboard salvaged from school’s main building

  • Salvaged mirrors procured through local materials reuse company

  • Energy efficient envelope includes highly insulated walls and roof

  • High performance exterior glazing

  • High efficiency fan coil unit (FCU) for heating

  • Energy recovery ventilator (ERV) to recycle captured heat

  • Point-of-use water heaters

Light and Air
  • Daylight harvesting through fully-glazed west facade

  • Natural ventilation through operable windows and ceiling fans

  • Rain chain celebration of water, fabricated by local metal craftsman 

  • Rain barrel stores harvested rainwater for raised bed and garden irrigation

  • Underground dry well for stormwater management created on site of demolished gray house

  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures reduce on-site water usage by 80% below baseline

  • Broad paved pathways within landscape promote accessibility

  • Open, single-level building design promotes accessibility

From the classroom architects, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson:

The Eighth Grade Classroom project developed from a need to meet the school’s expanding student enrollment. The Classroom is a 1,000 SF stand-alone structure, designed to house the 25-person eighth grade class, and includes the main teaching space as well as support space such as a mudroom, cubbies, restrooms, and storage.


Based on the Waldorf principles, the educational development of eighth grade students is focused on strengthening independence and thinking beyond themselves as they explore the outside world. Therefore, the building is intentionally situated away from the main schoolhouse. The massing of the classroom is simple yet thoughtful, with the service bar lining the south edge and the teaching space opening to the north. A gently arced wall delineates the perimeter of the interior teaching space, yet physiologically connects the students to the outdoors. Playing off the shape of the exterior pathway, this wall forms a gesture of embrace around the beloved outdoor green space, which doubles as an amphitheater during large school events.


In keeping with the school’s emphasis on authenticity and health, the materials palette is muted and natural. The service bar is cladded in a horizontal cement board siding, while the arced north wall is sheathed in a vertical lapped black locust wood siding. The interior is warm and inviting with wood casework built from a large pin oak felled on site.


To showcase (and teach) sustainable building practices and promote healthy learning environments, the Classroom is pursuing both Core Green Building Certification with the International Living Future Institute and WELL Building Standard.

Project Progress

Heartwood Annex

Heartwood Annex
Waldorf School of Pittsburgh Heartwood Annex Ribbon Cutting

Waldorf School of Pittsburgh Heartwood Annex Ribbon Cutting

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Heartwood Annex: Making the "Ribbon" for the Ribbon Cutting

Heartwood Annex: Making the "Ribbon" for the Ribbon Cutting

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Heartwood Annex: Reimagine Your Classroom

Heartwood Annex: Reimagine Your Classroom

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Heartwood Annex: Groundbreaking

Heartwood Annex: Groundbreaking

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Place Study Papers

In 2014, Waldorf School of Pittsburgh asked Duquesne University's PlaceLab to facilitate a study of the school grounds in order to develop a plan for enhancing the green spaces surrounding our historic school building. Many community members participated in this effort which allowed the school to re-envision our grounds. Out of this foundational study emerged many new developments which can be seen on campus today. Significant changes included expanding and bringing more natural features into the playground areas to better meet our students' developmental needs.


Here is the Community Report our families received written by current parent, Dr. Denise McMorrow, who was a member of PlaceLab and provided critical support for the process. Also below is a paper written by Dr. Eva Simms, alumni parent, who led the PlaceLab and wrote a more recent article about restorative play spaces.

Mahone Place Study Community Report

Simms (2017) Phen and school yard place study

Place Study Papers

The Latest Classroom News & Updates

Our Project Team

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