2019—Matzke Elementary School

Cypress-Fairbanks ISD—Matzke Elementary School
Architect: PBK

This project represents the replacement of an existing elementary school, requiring occupants to relocate during construction. Architects were challenged with integrating key elements that would revitalize the strong sense of pride and tradition associated with the original campus. The new school embraces modern-day pedagogy and the flexibility required to support Next Generation learning.


The design prioritizes traffic flow and cross-pollination of activities, encouraging the educational community to move and collaborate seamlessly. The classroom wing is divided into pods, each with its own collaboration areas. A strong outdoor connection is delivered through large windows in circulation spaces. Circulation spaces double as gathering areas to promote teamwork. These learning areas revolve around the library and courtyard – the “heart” of the campus.


The design prioritizes maximum flexibility in order to “future-proof” the learning environment. Operable walls and movable furniture enable circulation spaces to transform into collaboration spaces. The building’s operational and life-cycle costs are minimized through the use of long-term, durable materials, resilient flooring, and functionally-appropriate materials and applications.


A healthier learning environment was a core guiding principle. All south, east and west-facing windows are equipped with shading devices to prevent direct sunlight and reduce heat gain. The generous amount of natural light plays an impressive role when combined with the visual connection to green spaces. This provides a healthier learning environment which translates to greater user performance.

Community—Star of DistinctionCommunity

The transition of tradition from old campus to new has united generations and revived an educational community of unity. The school recreates the tradition of the Friendship Tree, including thumbprints from several generations of students. Holistic caring also embraces the special needs community. This school serves as the district’s main hub for its deaf education program. Students here benefit from the audiology booth, as well as specialized tests and diagnostics.


Interactive design sessions with the school community, staff and architects ensured all required spaces were accounted and optimized for student and teacher performance. Creating school classrooms with the flexibility to transform and accommodate student needs was an integral part of planning. From the beginning, school representatives were updated weekly on the direction of design, allowing them to continuously track design intent, applicability and correctness.

School Transformation

The school acknowledges and respects today’s rapidly changing educational paradigm with flexibility to adapt to the future. This Next Generation learning environment gives teachers an agile place for education that fully utilizes the many different elements of the school. Spontaneous learning moments happen in unanticipated areas; the outdoor Learning Courtyard offers an engaging, alternative environment to work and play; and applied technologies are keeping pace with the ever-changing world.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner