2016—Gatesville Elementary

Gatesville ISD—Gatesville Elementary
Architect: Huckabee

At the heart of the campus is a century old oak, a piece of history that was integrated into an instructional environment that represents a cross-section of past and future. From the oak, grew a learning courtyard that inspires exploration and connectivity. The newly constructed school surrounds the oak, framing a modern learning environment with classical architecture, a nod to historic roots while providing the opportunity to nourish a 21st century learning experience.


The school was designed on the same site as the existing facility in response to the community’s wish to maintain a central location and take advantage of mature trees. Cast-stone insets, decorative lettering and a farm sink were salvaged from the old campus, adorning the commons with reminders of the past. Learning neighborhoods create unity and are supported with shared space for inter-disciplinary instructional engagement. Multi-purpose assembly areas create flexibility for community use.


The design creates a customizable experience for the user. Operable walls, flexible furniture, outdoor courtyard and multi-purpose / group instructional space extend the learning environment, supporting play and creativity in curriculum delivery. Grade-level learning neighborhoods strengthen small communities within a large school environment. Forms and color blocks in common areas identify “zones” for learning, creating small ìstructuredî environments within unstructured spaces.


Planning—Star of DistinctionCommunity members were active in developing the solution for the new elementary school. Through a series of six work sessions with a 20-member steering committee, the team co-created a design that focused on 21st century instruction. The new school was constructed on the same site as the existing facility, requiring a complex phasing plan that minimized disruption to instruction, maximized the site plan, incorporated mature trees into the design and kept the project on schedule.


ICF construction provides durability and thermal efficiency; high performance glazing allows natural daylighting throughout the facility; high efficiency HVAC systems, native landscaping and low-flow fixtures improve life-cycle costs. An outdoor courtyard provides a unique space for students to play and grow; a rainwater cistern collects water and reclaimed materials fashion surprising design elements in the garden. Mature trees dot the landscape, reminders of the townís historic roots.


The school was constructed on the existing site, providing value to the owner while recognizing the significance of the site as a community icon. Serviceability was important, and choice is prevalent in the campus, allowing students,  educators and community to use the facility in ways that are meaningful. A masonry exterior reflects classical aesthetic, a design choice influenced by a rich heritage and context.

School Transformation

Fun and excitement are prevalent; design decisions created a learning environment that is customizable to the type of learning, experience of learning and involvement of learning. . . meaning each day offers a new opportunity to captivate young minds. Technology and nature intersect, providing students with 21st century environments withinw instructional neighborhoods, and reminding students of the foundations of learning—to play, explore and grow—indoors and out.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner