2016—Dorothy Adkins Middle School

Corpus Christi ISD—Dorothy Adkins Middle School
Architect: Gignac | Architects

This new middle school pioneers a new direction for educational environments in this large, very diverse community. The design embraces personalized learning & is modeled after a new high school in order to ease the transition between grade levels. This goal inspired the development of learning communities that occupants call “home.” Respecting that middle schoolers thrive on diversity, the classrooms are designed as a variation of the Fat L, showcasing well-defined activity spaces in each room.


The design employs a unique, centralized library that is active & deviates from traditional library models. This engaging central element of the campus provides diverse learning opportunities. It is open & flows to adjacent spaces through exhibition areas enhanced by natural light & small group settings. The library also extends to the outdoors, offering an adjacent exterior learning courtyard. The courtyard is accessible to the learning communities, but strongly supported by the library.


Material selections reflect the contemporary nature of the coastal neighborhood. The design employs large spans of masonry intertwined with stucco, featuring fanned-out walls that symbolize the wind & waves defining the local community. The fans also generate unique interior spaces – in classrooms, they create individual learning zones; in the library, they create an art exhibition space. Learning communities are separated from louder activities by the wide-open library (a true learning center).


As with the district’s newest high school, the planning process was inherently transformational given the context of the project. Research fed into community visioning sessions that reviewed the impact of the built environment on student performance, as well as a variety of pedagogies & approaches to instruction. Visioning sessions included community reps, district reps, and students. The team conducted a community-based design Charrette process where ideas were shared & goals were established.


Both LEED and TX-CHPS design principles are employed. Abundant daylighting is provided through low-e, hurricane-resistant, insulated glazing on all exterior fenestration. The project site employs an exemplary amount of open & green space; storm water runoff has been minimized. Low-Emitting materials are used for all adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings, & flooring materials, and a Green Cleaning program was adopted by the district for cleaning & maintenance of the facility.



School Transformation

Primary outcomes centered on student performance, easing the middle-to-high-school transition, & maximizing opportunities for students to find relevance in learning. There is a significant level of stress associated with moving from 8th to 9th grades (typically different campuses), so ensuring new middle school resembled the new high school was an intentional focus of the process. An additional priority was to create agile learning spaces that indulge different learning styles.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner