Proposed design of new Dunn Loring Elementary School to be unveiled

The Dunn Loring Administrative Center will be converted back to its original purpose as an elementary school (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Local residents will get their first glimpse of the planned Dunn Loring Elementary School later this week.

Fairfax County Public Schools will kick off the public input portion of the project’s design process on Thursday (Nov. 10) with a meeting at the Gatehouse Administrative Center (8115 Gatehouse Road) in Merrifield.

The meeting will take place from 6-7 p.m. in the building’s first floor cafe, where capacity will be limited to 150 people. As a result, a Zoom link will also be sent to those who register in advance.

Advanced by the Fairfax County School Board in March, the capital project will repurpose the Dunn Loring Administrative Center at 2334 Gallows Road as an elementary school expected to accommodate 900 students.

From a message that FCPS sent to area families:

The Dunn Loring Administrative Center was originally built to address the needs of a rapidly growing population. Additions were needed throughout the 1940s and 50s as the Baby Boom generation entered elementary school in this thriving community. Needs changed and by 1978, the school was repurposed, eventually serving FCPS staff as an administrative center. As our community grows in a new era, we have the opportunity to return the building to its original purpose and support the needs of students in the surrounding community.

The repurposing of the Dunn Loring Administrative Center will provide approximately 900 students with an elementary school rooted in history and poised to provide 21st-century learning, preparing young children for bright futures. Through this single project, FCPS supports quality education in ten other schools by relieving the pressures of increasing enrollment growth.

The planned renovations and additions will result in a 118,000-square-foot facility, according to the project page.

The engineering firm Samaha Associates was contracted to design the school, which is being funded by $36.8 million in bonds originally designated for a facility in the Fairfax/Oakton area.

The upcoming meeting will give members of the public their first opportunity to see and weigh in on the future school’s design, but “no major changes may be made” at this stage, FCPS said.

“Small adjustments may be considered,” FCPS said, noting that the feedback will be shared with the Fairfax County Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors, school board, and its staff.

Though originally pitched as a solution to crowding concerns at Shrevewood Elementary School, the Dunn Loring project has ruffled some feathers among school board members and residents who feel it jumped the renovation queue that FCPS uses for major capital projects.

The McLean Citizens Association, which urged FCPS to drop its plans this past spring, shared a report last week that argued the school system’s student enrollment projections might not fully capture the growth anticipated in the Tysons area.

FCPS has maintained that the future school’s boundaries remain to be determined.

“Boundary discussions will begin at the start of construction, which may be as early as spring 2024,” FCPS said.

At least one more community meeting will be held on the school’s design, along with a meeting by a design feedback and engagement committee. Comments for the committee can already be submitted online.

Those meetings will precede a public hearing before the county’s planning commission. No dates have been set beyond Thursday’s meeting.

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