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Holabird & Graceland - Grimm + Parker Architects

Net Zero Holabird Academy School + Community Center

Baltimore, Maryland


Baltimore City Public Schools


94,000 sf, 640 students


LEED Platinum | NZE


New Construction


Community Partnership

Holabird & Graceland - Grimm + Parker Architects

Tucked in the inner city of Baltimore, the existing Holabird Academy outgrew it's outdated existing facility and was in dire need of replacement. Baltimore City Public Schools was eager to design a new elementary/middle school prototype with Grimm + Parker Architect and a new 21st Century Ed Spec to integrate collaborative teaching, learning, and equitable sustainable design in their resource-constrained school district.

Holabird Academy ES/MS, like its nearby sister school, Graceland Park/O'Donnell Heights ES/MS, is tracking Net Zero Energy. This facility was designed with a focus on extremely energy efficient design strategies such as insulated concrete form walls (ICF), geothermal energy, demand control ventilation with centralized DOAS, CO2 sensor suite for fresh air, demonstration photovoltaic panels (PV), and optimized daylighting.

Located within three city blocks of each other and five miles east of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, both Holabird and Graceland serve scholars from Pre-K through Grade 8 and have robust community partnership programs within the schools. The new prototype design for this multi-generational, community school demonstrates Baltimore’s focus on project-based learning, sustainability, and energy-conscious design for schools in an urban environment. Utilizing the sites as teaching tools, the schools are equipped with student gardens, outdoor classrooms, rooftop solar labs, and vegetative roofs that further push innovation while intertwining sustainable concepts in education.

With identical footprints, the schools' academic programs are organized into flexible, grade group clusters that feature shared, collaborative learning spaces. A variety of learning environments are provided in each cluster to allow for the accommodation of different student learning styles. Realizing the importance of giving both schools their own character, each have a distinct exterior palette reflecting their community. Learning takes place everywhere on these neighboring campuses, preparing the scholars for successful STEM careers.

Wonder Wall

Ample gathering, display, and interaction space is provided in the main lobby's Wonder Wall.  Bright colors draw students into the public zone of the building and a low wall provides separation to the Cafetorium. The Sphere energy dashboard and 360 Virtual Tour of the sustainable strategies and systems welcomes students, families, and teachers to engage and learn.

Holabird & Graceland - Grimm + Parker Architects
Holabird & Graceland - Grimm + Parker Architects

Clerestory windows, tubular skylights that are dimmable, exterior sunshades and interior roller shades all prevent glare and optimize natural daylighting in learning and gathering spaces such as this mutli-functional Cafetorium.

Holabird and Graceland_From Concept to Reality

Holabird and Graceland_From Concept to Reality

Both Graceland and Holabird have over 1,300 photovoltaic panels on their roofs, including demonstration panels such as the dual-axis tracker and fixed-angle panels visible on the Solar Lab. Students are encouraged to observe efficiency of panels and understand how orientation and weather affect the energy harvest via a real-time energy dashboard system. Project based learning prepares these scholars for careers in renewable technology and clean energy.

Real Time Energy Display

Grimm + Parker Architects collaborated with CMTA Engineers and Baltimore City Public Schools curriculum and green teams to develop a user-friendly 360 Virtual Experience. Touchscreens at the Wonder Wall and the Energy Lab allow visitors to access real-time energy consumption and generation. VR glasses or tablets allow this data to be mobile and exported for lesson integration. 360-degree camera views of learning spaces highlight additional information on the sustainable features that contribute to its Zero Energy goal. 

Holabird & Graceland - Grimm + Parker Architects

We now have easy access to education and more space for knowledge … we also have a bigger and better environment to learn and grow.

Holabird + Graceland Students

Closing Thoughts

Holabird and Graceland are two NZE, world class schools that integrate teaching, learning, and equitable sustainable design in a resource-constrained school district.


1st Place Technology Award

ASHRAE National

1st Place, New Building - Institutional Education


Excellence in Construction Award

ABC Greater Baltimore

Climate Champion Award

USGBC Maryland

Excellence in Design, Jury Citation

Maryland AIA