2016—Academy Intermediate School

Academy ISD—Academy Intermediate School

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

Design—Star of DistinctionA key design feature is 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.

Value

Value—Star of DistinctionBy adding this campus, 640 new student spaces opened up in grades K-8. Classroom wings are designed for expansion, and core spaces are built for 600 to ensure long-term functionality. A 2-sided stage separating the gym and cafeteria provides flexible assembly options. The core spaces can be securely accessed for after-hours public use. Innovative ideas, such as 75” monitors rather than costly scoreboards and using corridors for flex space, brought the project in $500K under budget.

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.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner