School History: Design and Construction

Planning for Aldrin Elementary School began in 1986, when Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) administrators outlined plans to construct a 36-classroom elementary school in Reston at a location called “the Aldrin site.” Funding for construction of the school was approved by Fairfax County voters in the 1990 school bond referendum.

Photograph of the Aldrin site. The grounds have been cleared of trees and vegetation, with the exception of a few trees in the foreground. Heavy construction equipment can be seen in the distance, leveling the ground. The reddish brown dirt in the foreground has been churned up by the large tires of construction equipment.
Construction begins at the Aldrin Elementary School site, June 18, 1992.

Aldrin Elementary School was designed by the architecture firm of Ward-Hall Associates. Ward-Hall developed this design in the early 1980s, and by 1994 it had been used at eight schools in Fairfax County.

Photograph of the Aldrin site. Work is beginning on digging the foundation of the building. Two backhoes are visible in the distance. A construction worker walks along the edge of a trench in the mid-ground. A paved roadway with a concrete curb are visible in the foreground.
July 28, 1992

For Aldrin, the firm expanded the size of the building from 70,000 to 98,000 square feet, and redesigned the original flat-roofed entrance canopies to include sloped metal roofing. The redesigned layout included a separate suite on the lower level of the large west wing for students with special needs.

Photograph of Aldrin Elementary School during construction. The rear of the building is shown. The cinderblock walls and portions of the roof are complete. A portion of the building closest to the camera has a brick veneer in place. The roof over the main lobby is incomplete. Scaffolding can be seen in the distance against the far wing of the building.
December 24, 1992

A State-of-the-Art Building

On April 30, 1992, the Fairfax County School Board awarded the contract for the construction of the school at the Aldrin site to the Falls Church Construction Corporation in the amount of $6,540,000. The state-of-the-art building would have exposed beams in the library, a skylight in the principal’s office, a computer and phone in every classroom, and a computerized catalog system in the library.

Photograph of the rear of Aldrin Elementary School taken from the south. The brick veneer is in place on all visible sides of the building. Scaffolding is in place along sections of the exterior where work is being done on the windows. Construction supplies and materials are on the ground close to the building.
March 25, 1993

In February 1994, Gina Ross, principal at Great Falls Elementary School, was appointed principal of the school at the Aldrin site. Principal Ross was excited at the prospect of opening a new facility and building a team from the ground up. On a visit to the construction site, Principal Ross took a long, hard look at the open space in the wing of the building originally intended for use as a center for children with physical disabilities. By this point in time, the concept of separate classroom wings for children with special needs had become obsolete, and Principal Ross felt the space would better serve as a science and technology center.

Photograph of the rear of Aldrin Elementary School taken from the south. Only one wing of the building is visible. The exterior looks complete with windows in place. A driveway with concrete curb are visible on the left and a construction van is parked close to the building. Empty wooden pallets have been stacked on the driveway. The school grounds have been graded, but the grounds closest to the building have not been sodded.
June 28, 1993

The Number One Goal

By mid-April 1994, construction of our school was largely complete. School system administrators were projecting an initial enrollment of approximately 500 general education and 130 special education students. “Our school will be composed of a wide diversity of students,” said Principal Ross. “Our number one goal will be to ensure that each child feels that he or she belongs here.”

Newspaper clipping from the Reston Observer, published on April 14, 1994. A black and white photograph shows the interior of the library. The bookshelves are empty and the walls are unadorned. The photograph caption states: The now-empty Aldrin Elementary School library this fall will be filled with books and curious young minds. The building has already received an architectural ward for being a state-of-the-art education facility.
The Reston Observer, April 14, 1994

On May 26, 1994, the School Board officially named our school in honor of Buzz Aldrin, a former United States astronaut. Board members felt the name was a very fitting choice because July 20, 1994 would be the 25th anniversary of the landing of the Apollo 11 Eagle lunar module. The Apollo 11 mission confirmed the belief that whatever mankind could dream, mankind could accomplish. Principal Ross and the school community hoped to instill this spirit of wonder and determination in the children.

Photograph of a brick that was purchased for the exterior veneer of Aldrin Elementary School. A red, white, and blue ribbon has been threaded through the interior holes and tied in a bow. The brick is light gray and brown in color. Some surplus bricks were used as fundraising gifts.
Commemorative brick from the construction of Aldrin Elementary School.