2018—Acton Elementary School

Duncanville ISD—Acton Elementary School
Architect: Huckabee

For the economically and culturally diverse student body that attends it, this new school provides a comfortable, safe space for creativity, inspiration and education. The design created a plethora of opportunities for students to spread out and learn, for families to participate more closely in the learning process and for the community to partner with the school. Agility in education and indoor / outdoor learning are prominent themes.


At the heart of the design is a mission to inspire and empower learners, one child, one achievement and one success story at a time. Glazing throughout the two-story building offers ample light and breathtaking views of the surrounding greenery; this creates bright, cheerful and inspiring spaces. Unique, open environments empower students and educators to participate in different types of learning and curriculum, from fine arts to STEM programs.


Throughout the architectural process, the team focused on creating a design that was truly responsive to the district’s needs, to the students and teachers and to the topography. To accommodate the budget and limited buildable area at the site, the new facility was created as a two-story building—which has added value by giving students distinct, grade-level specific areas and by preserving the nearby greenbelt.


One of the most striking elements of the design is the connectedness to the outdoors. This allows educators to include outdoor elements in curriculum for subjects such as science. Other sustainable features include: natural daylighting, an ICF wall system, single ply white roof, high performance glazing, shading devices and LED lighting. The building also complies with the city’s green checklist.


The school has become rooted in its new location. It’s a neighborhood school, and many children walk there. With this knowledge, administrators created a program where school staff members walk with the students—it’s another way for teachers to connect with the kids.
Additional space affords opportunities for increased community engagement, use and excitement. Local businesses show support through philanthropy.


During the planning process, the design team facilitated charrettes, interviews and small-group discussion to identify critical program and site needs. The team performed a thorough assessment of the existing school’s spaces and worked hand-in-hand with the district and the community to identify gaps. The team envisioned a school that would complement its scenic surroundings and invigorate its students; together, they came up with the two-story, multi-functional concept.

School Transformation

The school has been transformed into an oasis for students—a place to experience nature, play safely and enjoy learning in a spacious setting. Square footage has increased, and there are significantly more windows. Before, when teachers walked around the classroom, they had to be careful not to bump into the students. Now, students can go to the different areas of the classrooms or spread out on the carpet. Outside, gated areas allow the students to run freely.


Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner