2018—James C. Neill Elementary School

Fort Bend ISD—James C. Neill Elementary School
Architect: PBK

The school has a classroom capacity of 850 students and accommodates future growth with core spaces designed for 1,000 students. The program includes 37 general studios, 2 specialized classrooms, music and art labs, an afterhours extended day space, gym, cafeteria, science and media labs, maker spaces and various resource and flex spaces throughout. Outdoor learning courtyards provide added learning opportunities that create connectivity between the school and the residential development.


The school has a centrally located tree house that overlooks the media center, connecting the three 2-story studio pods to the learning hub. A courtyard & interior circulation plan with a curved “bridge” fuses the entire school together. The school’s interiors showcase durable materials, floating ceilings, clerestory windows & bold paint colors. Careful attention was given to the orientation of the building to allow windows in every classroom and connect students to the outdoors.


The school has double loaded corridors, allowing for an efficient plan with areas for collaboration & flexibility. The site and three classroom wings are designed to accommodate district growth. Core spaces can hold 150 additional students. Shared community spaces (gym, café, library) are convenient to parking & can be isolated by overhead grilles. The all-masonry exterior shell with metal panels & stone accents is durable & low-maintenance. Natural light reduces the need for artificial light.


The school is LEED Certified and saves the district in operations & maintenance and promotes student health. The site has cisterns, vegetable gardens, bicycle storage and changing rooms, dedicated parking for fuel-efficient vehicles, recycling and outdoor classroom spaces. Lighting controls and thermostats are in each classroom with sloped ceiling for maximum daylighting. Building orientation, water reduction, life cycle costs & maintenance of durable & sustainable materials were priorities.


The campus design blends with the agricultural focused community and is centrally located. Parking, playfields, playground, bike trails & sidewalks are accessible to the community. Shared spaces (gym, café, library) are conveniently adjacent to parking areas & can be isolated by overhead grilles. Demonstration super-graphics & learning kiosks provide interactive learning opportunities for daily inhabitants. The school provides sidewalks & bike lanes to all sides of the school property.


The process to design the school began with a three-day design charrette with stakeholders and the surrounding community. Community input was a top priority in formulating the layout and theme of the school. Various options were explored to get to the right plan for the site orientation and flow and look of the school. Collaboration between architects & the district representatives during the design process ensured the vision of the community was followed through the entire design process.

School Transformation

Grade-specific educational themes are in the form of super-graphics, murals & learning kiosks. A centralized circulation area showcases an interactive monitor that shows students how the building is performing & sustainable features in the school. Courtyards provide added learning opportunities that connect the school to the surrounding sustainable residential community. Flex rooms in each learning community provide agile learning spaces for fluctuating educational applications.


Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner