Smart Design For Learning

Trespa panels clad a new science building for a prestigious school.

The new science building at the German School needed an exterior to match the clean, modern look of the main building. Trespa panels provided the solution.

The German International School Washington D.C., located in Potomac, MD, serves more than 500 students from preschool through grade 12. While educating German-speaking students, the school is also devoted to offering children from all backgrounds the opportunity to learn using the latest technology and aims to instill tolerance, respect, and cooperation. Beyond the curricula being German, German is spoken at the school and students live the German culture. The student body comprises families from German-speaking countries who temporarily reside in the area for professional reasons, and local families with or without a German-speaking parent. The school needed expansion due to rising enrollment and the administration’s desire to give graduates a competitive edge with experience using state of-the-art science equipment and technology.

A German architect designed the school’s main classroom building during the 1970s. The administrators wanted a new science building with an exterior to match the clean, modern look of the main building, while allowing future expansion to adopt a more overall contemporary look. They also wanted to incorporate the latest eco-friendly technology, while keeping utility and maintenance costs at a minimum.

Lead architect Philip W. Renfrow of Geier Brown Renfrow Architects, Alexandria, VA (, conducted a great deal of research when selecting an exterior façade and cladding for the new building. Keeping in mind that the school planned further expansion, he needed to find a durable material that could withstand time and weather, while fulfilling LEED Gold sustainability along with aesthetic and budget requirements. Renfrow’s research pointed to ventilated façades, commonly used in Europe, and as a result, Meteon panels from Trespa, New York (, were selected.

The ventilated façade system contributes to the building’s energy efficiency. Two tones of gray and cream-white panels were chosen.

Colorful sustainability

The panels are offered in a variety of colors, which allowed the new construction to connect visually with the existing structure’s design and color palette. The established building featured a solid upper level and an articulated ground level with brilliant yellow-gold window frames. In a similar fashion, the new science building showcased a solid top with an open and transparent lower level. The panels also blended well with the variety of other materials used on the science building’s exterior, including natural wood and glass. For the initial phase of renovation, two tones of gray and cream-white panels were chosen, but plans for the next phase will include more playful colors.

Meteon panels are installed using a back-ventilation system. This installation option was the single most-important factor in the final product selection. A ventilated façade system can contribute to a building’s energy efficiency. Additionally, the panels require low maintenance but offer high durability and impact resistance.

The new science building’s eco-friendly design is an extension of the school’s ecological philosophy with features such as the rain-collecting rooftop garden and the ventilated façade system. The panels add a modern look and functionality to the building, reflecting the innovative educational experience the German School offers its students.

— Learn more about the German School.

— See more photos of the project.

— Explore the range of Meteon panels.

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