The Sugar Creek Charter Elementary School 
Charlotte, NC 
Renovated K-Mart  
The Sugar Creek Charter School is in a renovated K-Mart in Sugar Creek, an area in Charlotte, NC. The school was opened in January of 2000, and had previously been housed in an abandoned recreation center nearby. The school has approximately 500 students, and employs 56 teachers. Sugar Creek is a neighborhood in Charlotte, NC, and the community had been dealing with a lack of proper educational facilities for some time. The Charter School is the community's response to this.
The renovation of a big box building is a major undertaking. Although the buildings are easily adaptable, usually with fairly new electrical and structural elements, the fact of the matter remains: big box buildings are very, very big. The process of taking a roughly 100,000 square foot room, breaking it into several smaller room and hallways, and getting the building ready for a drastically different use is a major project that involves major money and time. This fact is true at many sites, including at the Sugar Creek Charter School, where the school is currently only using about half of the space in the old K-Mart. This is not because they only need half of the space, but simply because the renovation is being done in stages, as time and money will allow. While standing in the dark, empty half of the space, the director of the school pointed out the hope that lies in the empty half of the old K-Mart. One day this empty half will house a new cafeteria, gymnasium, and more classrooms for the school.
The electrical structure of big box buildings is built to light shopping aisles. As a result, renovated big box hallways often resemble aisles. Classroom at the Charter School. The school is currently only using half of the old K-Mart. Renovation of this building is an on-going project, and this space will be used in the future.
The Sugar Creek Charter School shows an interesting artifact of the original electrical wiring of the building. Since big box retailers are generally wired for lights along the shopping aisle, often the hallways in renovated big boxes resemble aisles, running directly from one end of the building to the other. Since the large building does not have much outer wall space for windows, the Sugar Creek Charter School has added skylights all along the hallways, adding a lot of light to the inside of the building.


Another example of the stages of renovation apparent at the Elementary School can be seen in alcoves throughout the building. On the side of the building that is being used, these alcoves have doors on either side that lead to rooms that are used for school. On the side of the building that is not yet renovated, there are several alcoves that have spaces for doors that do not exist yet, leading to what will be classroom space in the future.

  This alcove has doors that lead to the library.   This alcove has space for doors of the future.



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