2017—Sunnyvale Middle School Next Generation Addition/Renovation

Sunnyvale ISD—Sunnyvale Middle School Next Generation Addition/Renovation
Architect: WRA Architects

Bright, creative teachers played significant roles developing a vision, the Four C’s – Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, Critical Thinking. Strategies: Ignite students’ enthusiasm; Foster collaboration between students and teachers; Multiple simultaneous learning activities. Workshops produced an uncommon architecture: Multiple spaces, flooded with North light, loosely connected by large garage doors, multiple configurations from small groups to large presentations to combined classes.


“Best example I’ve ever seen of Instruction and Architecture evolving together.” -Superintendent. The flexible spaces and wide variety of furnishings have emboldened these teachers to branch out and experiment with new teaching tactics. Large, glass, easily openable garage doors between classrooms and the main central area encourage unfettered movement among learning spaces, especially invigorating kinesthetic learners. “I am awestruck by the variety and energy in this place!” –Teacher.


Durable flooring, modular carpet squares, for frequent movement of furniture. Large common area with wide hallways yields a high percentage of useable space and very little pure circulation space. Plentiful I.T. infrastructure for Smartboards, personal devices, short-throw projectors, charging stations, digital monitors, and wifi. Natural light in all classrooms and throughout the central space and collaboration areas. Ample storage space, cabinets, and shelving. Entire structure is “multi-use.”


Ample daylighting greatly reduces electric lighting demand. Large central space is flooded with North light, shown to increase learning, productivity, retention, mood, and sense of well-being for students and teachers. Majority of the building materials sourced locally eliminating the environmental impact of long-haul transportation. Motion detectors turn off lights automatically. High efficiency glazing and HVAC.

CommunityCommunity—Star of Distinction

The Four C’s vision was developed bringing teachers together with parents, people in industry, business leaders, and the community at large. People told how their workplace environments are evolving; this influenced the Programming and Design for this school. People in this close-knit small town are enthusiastic about community involvement and robust outdoor physical activities. They envisioned a school that would capture that spirit of high activity and bring it into their kids’ school day.


The District spent 3 years preparing their teachers in the Four C’s vision. Then a series of workshops, which included teachers, generated a design concept for multiple simultaneous learning activities, maximum flexibility, combined classes for ELUs, facilitating movement, and igniting students’ enthusiasm for learning. “You can’t just design a new learning space and then expect to teach the way you’ve always taught. Instruction and Architecture have to evolve together.” –Superintendent

School Transformation

Following a process of visioning, staff re-development, community-industry input, and brainstorming among educators, this new facility became the capstone of this school’s transformation of middle school education into a method following the District’s “4C’s” – Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking. Driven by these and ELUs, the District worked with the architect to design a building that would best accommodate the variety of uncommon spaces called for in their vision.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner