Designing Schools...With Kids in Mind!



Academy Intermediate School

Academy ISD

Overview

This compact 61,000 sq foot facility for grades 3 – 5 shares a site with an existing campus in a rapidly growing community. The project challenge was to design the new campus to meet current and future growth within approximately 10 usable acres without compromising instructional program goals.

Designers collaborated with District staff and administration to create innovative solutions and to design a one-of-a-kind facility that will serve students in this community for years.

Community
Since its inception in 1925, the District has honored its history and hard-working culture. Today, the community still has a strong agricultural connection as well as links to emerging healthcare fields. This campus allows students to honor their past with an eye to the future through historical learning walls, interactive breakout space, technology-infusion, District branding, and ample daylighting in core spaces and classrooms to give students a unique 21st century learning environment.

Design
A key design feature are the learning nodes. The floor-to-ceiling vinyl graphics correspond with grade-level TEKS, illustrate key local, state, and national topics, and can be revised by the District. The learning nodes and extra wide corridors provide flexible space, making all square footage usable. Students set up and use iPads for multi-media presentations as audiences pass. Other key features, such as marker board surface desks and an outdoor classroom, engage young, tactile learners.  

Planning
This project started with interactive listening sessions. End users, including teachers, administration, technology, curriculum, and custodial staff gave input on all details such as layout, number of teaching walls, what to include in the learning node graphics, and materials selection. Working together, the current design emerged. Architects also coordinated with TxDot and city officials to make sure bus traffic and parent traffic would flow safely and efficiently on the shared site.

Sustainability
The small footprint minimizes the environmental impact. LED lighting is used inside and outside for maximum energy efficiency. However, the campus is oriented to capture enough natural light in the gym, media center, corridors, and cafeteria that artificial lights are unnecessary during the school day. All the casework and masonry were sourced from manufacturers located within the county. The outdoor classroom created new local partnerships, giving students hands-on learning opportunities.

School Transformation
“To say that the new Intermediate School has impacted learning would be an understatement,” according to the Curriculum Director. The previous school was at 127% capacity, in detached buildings, and with 25 different entrances. Electrical access, technology, and lab spaces were lacking or outdated. Now students can explore and learn in a safe, inspiring environment with the technology, resources, aesthetics, and equipment to experience a world-class education.

Claycomb Associates, Architects provides architectural and master planning services to school districts throughout Texas.
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