Project Updates

  • Sept. 14, 2020

    City Council Approves Design for New Douglas MacArthur Building
    Alexandria City Council has unanimously approved the design of the new building for Douglas MacArthur Elementary School, allowing the construction to move ahead on schedule.

    The new building, known as the “Forest Design,” will have space for 275 more students, classrooms with natural light, and be designed to be environmentally friendly and energy-efficient.

    It will also retain 111,000 square feet of play space — almost 25% more than the current building and site — while expanding the amount of classroom and learning space and maximizing the small lot through the use of underground parking.

    The City Council approved the Development Special Use Permit (DSUP) during an online hearing on Saturday. The DSUP includes allowing the new school facility an increased floor to area ratio (FAR) of 0.75 as opposed to the usual 0.60 to allow the school division to make maximum use of the site on Janney’s Lane.

    “We have been talking about the need to modernize Douglas MacArthur for 10 years and despite a pandemic, we are finally moving forward,” said ACPS Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. “This design is environmentally friendly, energy-efficient and it prioritizes our students’ needs. These plans increase capacity and allow us to add needed designated learning spaces for pre-K and specialized education students.”

    ACPS conducted community engagement around the design to accommodate the community’s desire to see a strong connection between the school and nature and capitalize on the wooded area at the back of the school property. Forest Park runs along the back of the school and behind one of the classroom wings. The trees from the park will be visible from classrooms and from the entrance to the school. A second classroom wing creates a courtyard with a “new forest” to provide more natural light and an outdoor play area for MacArthur’s youngest students.

    The design for the new 825-student preK-5 school was also driven by the educational program, outlined by the architects and school staff. The new building corrects some of the problems staff had with the current Douglas MacArthur building, such as dead-end hallways, windowless classrooms, and the lack of handicap accessible restrooms.

    The design creates a hallway system that allows students and staff to move easily through the building, allowing teachers to maximize instruction and planning time. The new school building will also have space for extended learning, one-on-one instruction and student collaboration.

    “Staff input was essential in helping guide the architects. These new learning spaces give teachers the ability to collaborate and create a safe, nurturing classroom community. This school will be a lasting community asset that truly complements the Douglas MacArthur neighborhood,” said Douglas MacArthur Principal Penny Hairston. 

    Before the hearing, ACPS shared a preliminary cost estimate (PDF) from the construction management team that includes assumptions and contingencies which may result in the need for additional funding by an estimate of approximately $5-7 million. However, ACPS will continue to explore an aggressive value management approach to reduce these additional costs and stay on schedule.

    The increased costs are due to site constraints, geothermal well installation, the costs of an underground parking garage, increased square footage to accommodate a specialized instruction program, and general inflation.
    The former Patrick Henry School building will be used as swing space for Douglas MacArthur students until the new building is completed in January 2023. Demolition of the old Douglas MacArthur school building is scheduled to take place this fall.


    Sept. 12, 2020

    On Saturday, September 12, the City Council will hold a virtual meeting at 9 a.m. and the DSUP for the new Douglas MacArthur School will be considered at this hearing.

    Development Special Use Permit #2020-00010 Rezoning #2020-00002 1009, 1101,1201 & 1203 Janney’s Lane and 1099 Francis Hammond Parkway – Douglas MacArthur Elementary School Public Hearing and consideration of requests for: (A) an amendment to the official zoning map to change the POS/Public open space and community recreation zone portion to R-8/Single-family zone at 1101 Janney’s Lane, change the R-20/Singlefamily zone to R-8/Single-family zone at 1201 and 1203 Janney’s Lane, and change the R-8/Single-family zone portion to POS/Public open space and community recreation zone at 1099 Francis Hammond Parkway; and (B) a Development Special Use Permit and site plan to demolish the existing building and construct a new public school, including Special Use Permits for an increase in floor area and height pursuant to Section 7-2100 of the Zoning Ordinance (if Text Amendment #2019-00007 is approved), to exceed the maximum parking requirement, an indoor and outdoor recreation facility and community center use, and modifications to the front and rear yard setbacks; zoned: R-8/Single-family, R20/Single-family, and POS/Public Open Space and Community Recreation. Applicants: Alexandria City Public Schools and City of Alexandria

    Sign up to speak.


    Sept. 11, 2020 

    The Superintendent sent a memo to the City Manager.

    Read the memo.



    Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020

    The Alexandria City Planning Commission unanimously approved the Development Special Use Permit to allow the modernization of Douglas MacArthur Elementary School to move ahead. 

    The Planning Commission passed a revised limited text amendment to the ordinance increasing the permitted Floor to Area Ratio (FAR) to 0.75 for the new building. The new design has a 0.71 Floor to Area Ratio and gives ACPS the ability to expand a school’s square footage and maintain as much play space as possible. This compromise by the Planning Commission still requires a public process for building designs and requires the approval of plans by elected representatives on City Council, but it also allows for ACPS to plan.

    The Planning Commission included a requirement for a transportation study to be conducted within the first year the new school is open to study whether a signal is needed at the new entrance and exit to the school across from the triangle onto Janneys Lane.

    The Planning Commission also required the school to meet net-zero energy at the time the school opens. Net Zero buildings produce enough renewable energy to meet their energy consumption needs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The budget did not include a net-zero energy goal. However, this proposed design is prepped to eventually be net-zero capable. ACPS will have to increase the budget to be net-zero at the time the school opens.

    The City Council will now consider the DSUP at a public hearing on Saturday, Sept. 12. You can register to participate in the hearing here

    Sept. 1, 2020

    On Tuesday, September 1, the Planning Commission will hold a virtual monthly meeting from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.  The DSUP for the new Douglas MacArthur School will be considered at this meeting.

    View the Docket and access the DSUP Application (PDF).

    Public comments will be received at the meeting.

    Sign up to speak.

    If you cannot attend, but want to send a message to the Planning Commission use this address:

    Aug. 27, 2020 Pre-Planning Commission Community Meeting

    This was the final community meeting before the proposed plans go before the Planning Commission on Sept. 1.2020. The DLR Group provided renderings of the exterior and interior spaces and Wells & Associates traffic consultants were on hand to discuss traffic flow on the school site. The plans are scheduled to be reviewed by City Council on Saturday, Sept. 12.

    View the presentation (PDF).

    View the video recording of the meeting.

    Read the New FAQs.

    Aug. 24, 2020 Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group Meeting

    The Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group held a virtual meeting on Zoom. The DLR Group presented the proposed design that will go before Planning and Zoning and then City Council on September 1 and September 12, 2020 respectively. ACPS shared how community feedback influenced the design and provided answers to frequently asked questions. The DMAG members remain concerned about the traffic flow into and out-of-the school site onto Janneys Lane. Advisory Group members were encouraged to bring up these concerns at the upcoming hearings.

    View the presentation (PDF).

    View the community feedback (PDF). 

    Aug. 17, 2020 Douglas MacArthur Staff Meeting

    ACPS and The DLR Group met with Douglas MacArthur staff to inform them of the proposed design for the school building and to discuss the design of the interior of the building.  The DLR Group provided teachers with an interactive document that will collect their feedback to develop various aspects of the interior design. 

    July 2020 Community Input Invited 

    In May, ACPS asked the Douglas MacArthur community for feedback on their preferred colors and materials for the external facade of the new building. The majority of the community expressed a preference for Palette A. This choice has been incorporated into the design.

    ACPS is now at the stage of the design process where we want to hear from the Douglas MacArthur Elementary School community regarding the proposed design of the new building.

    Please review the presentation below that includes renderings of the building submitted to the City of Alexandria for their feedback. At the end of the presentation, there is a link to a survey form with open-ended questions. Please click the link to submit your input on the design of the building. The feedback form will close on Wednesday, July 22, 2020.  

    View the presentation and submit your feedback via the form at the end(PDF).

    June 24, 2020

    The Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group held a virtual meeting to get an update from the architects, ACPS, city staff as well as the expanded design team - including the civil and traffic engineer. They addressed questions received from the Advisory Group and some community members during the May community feedback request.  The discussion provided information on the traffic analysis, landscaping and pedestrian site uses as well as how the community feedback has been integrated into the design. Some Advisory Group members remain concerned that the design is too "modern." The design team intends to address some of these concerns, to the extent possible at this point in the design process, over the next few weeks. 

    Please review the presentation here.

    June 15, 2020

    The design team submitted its drawings of a new MacArthur Elementary School for the final “completeness review” to the City of Alexandria on June 15th and has since been approved for hearing in September 2020. 

    June 3, 2020

    The results are in from the survey of the Douglas MacArthur Community and Palette A was the preferred option. The colors and material choices from this Palette will be integrated into the design of the facade of the new building. 

    View color Palette A.  

    View community feedback(PDF).

    May 2020 Community Input Invited

    The design for the new MacArthur Elementary School Building is due to be submitted in June to the City for their initial review. Ahead of that submission, ACPS would like community feedback on the colors and materials to be used in the facade of the new building. DLRGroup has shared three initial options for feedback. These may be adjusted once the feedback has been collated. 

    Here is how you can contribute to your new school - 

    May 26, 2020

    The Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group met virtually with ACPS and The DLR Group to review updated designs, material and color pallets for the new Douglas MacArthur Elementary School building. The DMAG, ACPS and DLR would like feedback and input from the community on preferences for materials and colors.

    View the presentation.

    May 18, 2020

    The Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group met virtually with ACPS and The DLR Group to discuss the latest designs in anticipation of a June 2020 submission to the City for the DSUP process. This was a joint meeting with the Collaborative Committee and the first part of the presentation provides an update on swing space at the new Douglas MacArthur on Taney Avenue.

    View the presentation.

    April 29, 2020

    On April 29, the City Manager approved funding to allow the continuation of the Douglas MacArthur Modernization project in his revised budget. Therefore, despite the economic downturn due to COVID-19, the building of a new Douglas MacArthur Elementary will continue on the original schedule.

    ACPS staff anticipates being able to initiate relocating the school to its temporary swing space at the former Patrick Henry School on Taney Avenue earlier in June than originally planned. This, in turn, may allow early site and decommissioning work at the existing Douglas MacArthur to begin this summer instead of waiting until fall.

    The school division is working on ways to ensure that all students, staff, families and the community can celebrate the memories encapsulated within the old MacArthur building.

    March 18, 2020

    The Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group held a virtual meeting with The DLR group to get an update on the design process.

    February 24, 2020                                         

    Teachers at Douglas MacArthur The teachers at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School met with DLR Group and provided input on the kind of building they believe they need to teach students now and into the future.

    February 24, 2020

    Please view this presentation (PDF) to the school board that details work that educational facilities and maintenance will take over the summer months at ACPS school buildings.

    February 20, 2020

    Progress was made in Q2 towards the new build for Douglas MacArthur Elementary School. The design process began for the new school. The concept phase will be completed in Q3.

    February 19, 2020

    The DLR Group presented the timeline for the design process and what the community can expect during the schematic part of the design process that will run through April 2020. 

    View the presentation.

    View the video.

    February 18, 2020

    The Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group met to discuss the "Forest" concept design. The DLR Group will be submitting design concept for the DSUP process in March.

    View the presentation.

    February 6, 2020

    The School Board voted for the "Forest" concept design. 

    View the video of the School Board meeting and discussion.

    Read the press release (PDF).

    View the presentation to the Board (PDF).

    View the concept booklet (PDF).

    View the memo to the Board (PDF).

    View community input from civic associations (PDF).

    Read the joint statement on colocation (PDF).

    February 3, 2020

    ACPS held a community meeting featuring City Manager Mark Jinks. Watch the community meeting.
    Read the joint statement between ACPS and the City government.

    January 23, 2020

    The DLR group presented the Douglas MacArthur community's two preferred design concepts with the School Board.

    January 15, 2020

    ACPS and DLR held an open house for the community to view the three concepts shared with the Advisory Group for their feedback. This was followed by a community meeting with a presentation from DLR about the three concepts, a city colocation update, and they received feedback to be shared with the School Board.

    Colocation was a topic at the meeting which could include additional recreation space, affordable or workforce housing or added health services, colocated on the site with Douglas MacArthur Elementary School. ACPS and the City intend to explore feasible and appropriate colocation opportunities within the chosen concept, but ACPS's educational program for the new school will take priority. 

    January 13, 2020

    DLR met with the Advisory Group and presented three concept designs for a possible new building on the Douglas MacArthur site. The Advisory group chose two to send to the School Board for consideration. Advisory Group Meeting on Design Concepts.

    January 13, 2020

    DLR met with the School Team and presented three concept designs for a possible new building on the Douglas MacArthur site. The team provided their feedback on the three designs and this was shared with the Advisory Group members.

    December 18, 2019

    A community wide meeting was held at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School to discuss five concept designs for a future school building. The design team is eager to get your input on each of the proposed concepts. 

    View the presentation.

    Leave your feedback at:

    We would like to thank City staff who presented the City’s concept around colocating services, and their work in the development of a master plan for citywide sites, including school sites over the next 18 months.

    December 16, 2019

    DLR met with the Advisory Group and presented five concept designs for a possible new building on the Douglas MacArthur site. 

    November 18, 2019

    Staff engaged with DLR in a visioning session to determine their priorities for the new building.

    November 16, 2019 

    Alexandria City Council voted unanimously to allow ACPS to update and use the old Patrick Henry Elementary School facility as temporary swing space for Douglas MacArthur Elementary School students while a new school is being built at the MacArthur site.

    November 9, 2019

    A community wide visioning session was held in the library at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School. The DLR Group shared videos and led exercises meant to help community members develop a shared vision for the new school.

    November, 7, 2019Group Exercise on Values

    The Alexandria City Planning Commission unanimously approved permitting documents that will allow ACPS to use the old Patrick Henry School as temporary swing space for Douglas MacArthur Elementary School students. By approving a Special Use Amendment (DSUP), the Commission is saying that the design plans, including parking, are acceptable and the two schools can be colocated.

    November 4, 2019

    On November 4, the Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group held their first meeting with the DLR Group, the architects and designers of the new school building, and ACPS. After introductions and a description of roles, the DLR Group presented a summary from the listening session held with the larger community the previous week. 

    October 29, 2019

    ACPS held a Kick Off event for the Douglas MacArthur community to meet the architects who will be leading the redesign and build of the new elementary school. They held a mini-visioning session and introduced the Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group members who were in attendance.