New Pinecrest and Whitehills Elementary School Plans Revealed

Wednesday, February 13, 2019, 9:17 am
Karessa Wheeler

Above: From left, Dave Warner, project manager, Clark Construction; Nate Bosch and Andrew Howard of GMB Architects walk the School Board through plans for Pinecrest and Whitehills elementary schools Monday night.

Final plans for the new Pinecrest and Whitehills elementary schools were revealed to the East Lansing Board of Education Monday night, showing very similar structures at both sites which are expected to be open for fall of 2020.

“The buildings are cousins – similar but they do have their differences,” explained architectural project manager Andrew Howard of GMB Architects and Engineering in Holland.

Both buildings are a mix of elevations, with second story gymnasiums anchoring a “specials” wing and a single story main office/media center section in the middle. The other end of each school is a second story “academic wing” with lower elementary (kindergarten and first grade) classrooms on the first floor and second through fifth grades on the second floor.

Both buildings feature clerestory windows in the ceiling of the second floors to allow natural light into the upper corridors and were designed to have a minimal visual impact on the neighborhoods.


At Pinecrest, specific issues addressed in the building site included conserving memorial trees, moving parking off the neighborhood streets and separating the car drop-off area and parking from the bus drop-off loop.

The design also specifically keeps the cafeteria close to the playground for ease of access during the day and including flexible outdoor learning spaces.

Both floors of the academic wing show the capacity to add an additional two classrooms in case the school needs more space in the future.

Inside the building are feature walls for displaying art work, built-in seating in common areas, clear signs to direct students to different parts of the school and windows looking onto the corridors as well as outside to allow natural light to get all the way through the building.

Upper elementary classrooms feature folding partitions that can be used as white boards/display space when closed, or allow two rooms to be combined when open. Lower elementary rooms have double doors that allow access between each pair of grade-level classrooms. All elementary rooms include “team rooms” – smaller interior rooms to allow staff and students to break out into smaller groups.


At Whitehills, planners kept the car and bus drop-off as well as parking areas similar to the current school, with an increased partition between the bus and parent drop-off. They’ve added bike racks in two locations and ensured access to the playground from both the gym and the before and after care programs.

The existing playground at Whitehills will be preserved and expanded while more trees will be planted to buffer the school from Lake Lansing Road.

Both schools include gender neutral bathrooms on both floors, and water coolers able to fill up water bottles. All the new buildings in East Lansing are using energy efficient geothermal systems, Howard said.

The Board expects to vote on bids for the projects at their February 25 meeting,

In other Board of Education news:

  • The Red Cedar Programming Committee is currently being formed and will meet later this month. Information on how to join will be sent to principals and various MSU departments, said Superintendent Dori Leyko. At a later date, the committee will hold meetings within the Red Cedar catchment area.
  • The Board unanimously approved a trip for East Lansing High School students to Germany and Austria in the summer of 2019. This is the 40th year of the exchange program in which German students will later visit East Lansing.
  • ELPS Finance Director Rich Pugh presented the Board with the first budget revision for 2018-19. © 2013-2019 East Lansing Info