Joan K. Mendel Elementary

Yokota Air Base, Fussa, Japan

Joan K. Mendel Elementary School is located at Yokota Air Base in the western Tokyo city of Fussa, Japan. Mendel is the first of 15 schools in Japan that will be rebuilt as part of the $4 billion congressionally funded Department of Defense Education Activity program (DoDEA). As the first project in the DoDEA Japan program and the first LEED silver project on Yokota Air Base, it seemed incongruent that this project would destroy 16 sakura trees, the de facto national tree of Japan. Our solution was to preserve this natural habitat for native insects and obvious element of the unique fabric of the school by fashioning the building around the trees while also carefully fitting the building within the allowable setbacks. The result is an organic composition of angular polygonal blocks around the central commons area. The organic orientation and faceted composition interplays with the adjacent sakura trees.

Awards: AIA Honolulu, Award of Merit, 2019

Client: Department of Defense Education Activity

Location: Yakota Air Base, Fussa, Japan

Size: 13,000 SF

Completion: 2015