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FAQs for Douglas Macarthur Modernization Project

Project Construction

What is the timeline for the project? 

The Douglas MacArthur project is scheduled to be substantially complete in August 2023. Previous timelines indicating a January 2023 completion date have been extended due to industry impacts caused by COVID-19. View our Project Timeline.

Where can I find updates about the construction process?

Bi-weekly updates on construction activities can be found on the SKANSKA project page. The Douglas MacArthur Modernization webpage is updated with two-week lookaheads and project milestones.

Can I communicate with the project superintendent directly?

Yes, the on-site superintendent of the project is Mr. Erik Henson. Mr. Henson is happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have about the construction site. Mr. Henson’s email is

What are the construction work hours?

The regular work hours for construction are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Occasional weekend or after hours work may be scheduled - view the SKANSKA project page to view the weekly schedule.

Will construction vehicles be driving on community streets?

Per the city’s permits, all construction vehicles associated with this project are required to use the approved routes indicated here. Community members can reach out to the project superintendent (Erik Henson, ) or the project email ( if a construction vehicle is not adhering to the approved route.

Will construction workers be parking on community streets?

No, construction workers are not permitted to park along community streets. Community members can reach out to the project superintendent (Erik Henson, ) or the project email ( if a construction vehicle is not adhering to this rule.

For residents across the street, how much noise and dust/debris should we expect during different phases?

SKANSKA will take measures to ensure the lowest possible amount of noise and dust. There will be a certain amount of noise, but the loudest part of the construction will be the removal of the foundation, which should not last long.

Will efforts be made to recycle existing building materials and generally minimize waste?

Yes, measures will absolutely be taken to minimize waste and recycle material.

Will the project allow for the preservation of the mature trees on the lot purchased by ACPS?

We are doing everything we can to preserve the trees on all parts of the Douglas MacArthur site.

Is it possible to allow a narrow path from Janneys Lane to Forest Park for those who walk in the park?

For safety reasons, it is not possible to allow a path to Forest Park alongside the construction site.

Project Details

Why is MacArthur being modernized?

ACPS has been systematically modernizing aging elementary facilities as part of the ACPS 2020 Strategic Plan. Douglas MacArthur opened its doors in 1943 to serve the families drawn to the area to support the war effort. The school became part of ACPS in 1947. The envelope of the building has been failing for many years. Research has shown that providing high-quality learning environments can have a big impact on the ability of children to learn.

What is the timeline for the modernization of MacArthur?

The Douglas MacArthur Elementary School modernization project timeline has been advanced due to the decision to use the former Patrick Henry facility as swing space on Taney Avenue. The original opening date of the new school was scheduled for 2025 but due to the swing space decision, the new school’s doors are scheduled to open in January 2023.

What will be the capacity of the new school building?

The new school building is being developed for 825 students in grades PreK-5.

What was the capacity used for redistricting and how does that compare to the projected enrollment and capacity for the new school building?

The redistricting process assumed the new K-5 capacity of Douglas MacArthur to be 775 students and the capacity for the new building has remained unchanged at grades K-5. Capacity for approximately 50 pre-K students has been added to the program since redistricting; however, because pre-K is not based on boundaries, only the K-5 capacity is relevant. The most recent enrollment projections show Douglas MacArthur remaining flat at about 650 students over the next 10 years, but it is important to note that:

  • Some residential development is planned in the MacArthur boundary that will likely bring more students to the neighborhood; and
  • The School Board adopted a policy to review boundaries every five years and with the opening of every new school.

Where can I find information about the move to temporary space while the modernization takes place?

Information on the use of the former Patrick Henry Elementary School as temporary swing space can be found at While located on Taney Avenue, MacArthur will be known as Douglas MacArthur on Taney Avenue.
Site Options and Design

What design was chosen for this project?

Based on stakeholder feedback, the School Board voted for the Forest Concept for this project at its February 6, 2020 meeting. View the concept here.

Will the new campus be efficient and affordable?

Net-Zero Energy ready and LEED Gold are design goals for this project and, because of this, it is incumbent on the new building to not only use space efficiently but also be sustainable and contain operating costs. This is the focus of much of the work of the design team ACPS has contracted with and we are confident that the final design will be energy efficient, use space well and operate smoothly.

Who had a say on the aesthetics of the building?

Aspects such as the look of the school entrance, the canopy and landscaping were proposed and adjusted based on feedback and input from stakeholders, such as the community, staff and the Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group. The ultimate aesthetic should represent a balance of the goals of ACPS, the community’s requests, and the City’s professional approval process.

How will this design be a benefit to the educational program?

The educational program has and will continue to drive every major decision on this project. Teachers will be able to maximize instruction and planning time because the internal flow will allow students and staff to move much more easily and quickly through the building. The proposed design has created diverse places for extended learning spaces for one-on-one instruction and self-guided learning and collaboration. There are also individual, handicap-accessible restrooms throughout the building which means restrooms will be closer to classrooms and allow for student privacy. This design ensures that all students will have a classroom with ample natural light. It creates additional capacity to accommodate 275 more students, including pre-K students.

Did the Forest Concept evolve after it was chosen?

Yes, the design did evolve based on site needs and stakeholder feedback.The following changes were made to the Forest Concept during the schematic design process:
The gymnasium was pushed back to allow room for a basketball court and the main entrance was better defined.
A long rectangular bar of classrooms that ran across the back of the school was separated into two classroom wings to make it easier to move around the building and increase outdoor play spaces.
Bridges were added linking the two wings.
The evolution of the design is best depicted with pictures. Please view slides 5-8 in our May 26 presentation (PDF).

Was the design informed by community feedback?

Throughout the design process, the proposed design has been modified as a result of input from the Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group and Douglas MacArthur staff and community. However, significant feedback led to the following changes:
Angles present in earlier iterations of the design were removed.
The natural form canopy has been modified to have straight lines and the tree was removed.
Kalwall, a semi-translucent material, was added to bring more light to the front facade and the east-connector building.
Wood paneling was added at the front of the building and around the windows.
Increased outdoor play space.
Hallway circulation improved to increase instruction time.
Blended brick was selected as the primary building material to fit in with the neighborhood.
A natural color palette was selected rather than the original bold blue and orange colors that were proposed.

Why was a wing of classrooms added to the Forest concept?

The new classroom wing allows ACPS staff to have the types of spaces they need to collaborate and create a safe, nurturing classroom community. It provides more natural light to more classrooms. It creates a hallway system that allows for students to easily move through the building. In addition, the separation of the wing into two wings adds play space for our youngest learners and creates contiguous play areas on the east end of the site.

Why was a courtyard added to the Forest Design concept?

The courtyard was developed largely to accommodate the circulation needed throughout the building, and to create a “new forest” so that all classrooms still have views to nature. In addition, the courtyard provides a usable and secure play space for our youngest learners.

Will the general public be able to access the courtyard?

The general public will not be able to access the courtyard for safety and security reasons unless it is being used for a specific event to which they are invited.

Did the creation of the two classroom wings and a courtyard push the building closer to Janneys Lane?

The classroom wings have pushed the school approximately 40 feet closer to Janneys Lane than what was presented in the original concept. However, the school is still set back about 180 feet from the street. The courtyard in the proposed design increased play space from the current 84,000 square feet to 111,000 square feet; it provides the circulation inside the school that teachers and staff need to optimize instructional time and use hallways more efficiently, and it helps reach the goal to have views of a forest from every classroom.

Will there be lights on the fields at the new Douglas MacArthur?

No, there will not be lighting on the fields at Douglas MacArthur.

What materials will be used on the facade of the school and will they be easy to maintain and cost-effective?

It is always the goal of ACPS on any modernization project to choose materials that are easily maintained and ensure the entire project is cost-effective. The exterior facade materials of the building are almost all brick, which is the most cost-effective and maintainable material in this region. Brick is also expected to fit best within the neighborhood. Though limited, there are some other building materials, such as kalwall, a material that is being used as an accent that will allow for more light inside of the building. This was brought into the design in response to community feedback requesting more light. In addition, wood paneling has been added in some discrete locations to capture the “forest” elements in the design.

What is the purpose of the canopy?

The canopy was created to provide protection from the weather and shade at key drop-off and pick-up points. The canopy also adds roof space to hold solar panels which is a potential future need. Finally, the canopy adds an aesthetic component to connect the varying heights of the building. View the updated canopy here.

What is the thinking behind the size and location of the windows in the building?

Natural light is critical for student learning. Windows in the proposed design have been strategically placed to optimize views of the forest through the school. They are located with consideration of student heights and placements in their classrooms.This design reflects windows that optimize natural light while considering the needed balance of window to wall space and building efficiency.

Are a reduction in parking spaces and grass rather than turf fields still on the table as a cost mitigation measure?

The reduction of parking spaces and grass fields are last-resorts. We are doing everything we can to avoid having to make these changes.

Will parking for staff be underground?

The Douglas MacArthur building will have a new underground parking structure for staff to use. They will be able to access the garage on the west end of the property. By placing the parking underground, ACPS was able to maximize the plot of land for the educational needs of the school community. An additional lane was created so that the new drop-off and pickup lanes will not interfere with the staff entering the garage.

Where will parents drop off and pick up students?

A drop-off and pickup lane is located on the west end of the property away from the Yale Drive and Janneys Lane intersection.

Are there enough play spaces outside of the building?

Outdoor play was a priority on this project. At the request of ACPS, The DLR Group was able to increase play areas from the 84,000 square feet on the current school grounds to 111,000 square feet in the proposed design. There will also be playground structures on the site.

Is the soccer field a full adult-size field?

This soccer field is not a full-sized adult field because it is not necessary for an elementary school and would not fit on the site. The site has two smaller fields that, combined, create one larger field, all intended for use by elementary-age children.

How wide are the sidewalks?

The existing sidewalks at the school are much narrower than those in the proposed design. The proposed sidewalks range from 6-to-15 feet wide. This is adequate for the proposed uses and allows the design to:

  • Accommodate multiple pathways for school and community use, including a loop around the field;
  • Provide as much play space as possible;
  • Maintain some existing trees and add plantings throughout the site;
  • Provide adequate emergency vehicle easement access;
  • Manage stormwater on site.

Will the community still be able to easily access the trails and Forest Park as we can today through the parking lot?
The same access points to the trails and Forest Park that exist today will remain when the new school is built.

Community Impact & Involvement

What is the structure of the engagement process for the modernization of MacArthur?

The engagement process will be divided into three distinct parts:
The Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group, who will provide feedback and input to a core team of architects and ACPS staff.
A School Team, who will provide feedback and input around learning needs and the flow of the school day during the process.
Community meetings. These will take place every two months throughout the process and the dates for these meetings will be shared in advance at the first community meeting.

How can parents and community members get involved?

Anyone in the community can come to the community meetings and provide their feedback and insights. Nominees are also being solicited to establish a Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group.

What does the Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group do?

The committee meets throughout the project, and:

  • Represents the interests of the group for which they have been selected to serve;
  • Provides feedback on the design;
  • Identifies possible challenges and proposes solutions.

Who is on the Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group?

The Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group is made up of representatives from different parts of our community. See the full roster here.

  • Taylor Run Civic Association
  • Seminary Hill Civic Association
  • Clover College Park Civic Association
  • A Duke Street area representative
  • The PTA President
  • A School Board Member
  • A City Council Member
  • A representative from Alexandria City Planning Commission
  • One Community-At-Large Representative

What is the difference between the Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group meetings and community-wide meetings?

The Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group will meet approximately once a month to collaborate and provide needed feedback to staff and consultants on the new build. The meetings will be public, but a public comment or public question and answer session will not be part of these meetings. This is standard on such projects. The community will have an opportunity to share their views at the community meetings, held every two months.

Can the public speak at the community-wide meetings?

Yes, the public will be asked to speak at the community-wide meetings. There will be time for questions and answers and public comment.

How often does the Douglas MacArthur Advisory Group meet?

Approximately every other month, depending on the progress of the project and key milestones.

How often are there community-wide meetings?

Community meetings are held at every major milestone of the project. Meetings are announced via email invitations two weeks before the meeting. Meeting information is also posted to the Douglas MacArthur Modernization Project main page. To ensure you receive community meeting invites and project information, sign up for our CIP Newsletter.