Highland Park ISD—University Park Elementary School
Schools in this district date back to the early 20th century & are cherished by residents, with many children attending the same schools their parents did. This is the first of 3 elementary school replacements aimed at addressing aging facilities & population growth in the district. The demolition of the existing campus & new campus construction on the existing 4 acre site were achieved in less than 16 months. The challenging site resulted in a 3 story building with an underground parking garage.
The design for this replacement elementary school is anchored on the idea that this school has a rich history in this community. A history that the new campus should celebrate. The new campus is located in an established community, thus it was vital that the new building responded to its context. The campus also marks a new chapter for this school and in doing so it creates learning environments ready for next-generation learning.
Early project goals included the need for a richly detailed building in keeping with the context of the neighborhood and using the operations budget as a litmus test by which design decisions were made. The design strives to provide value to each student in the form of student-focused learning environments, built-in protection from environmental hazards, and increased security systems.
Designed to exceed the 2009 Texas Collaborative for High-Performance Schools, the school employs four basic strategies to minimize the building’s impact on the environment and increase the quality of the interior environment:
- Site strategies to reduce land use, decrease reliance on the automobile, and reduce heat island effect
- Increased water and energy efficiency
- Use of sustainable materials
- Increased indoor environmental strategies
In a district where each school is the heart of its neighborhood, the design of this replacement elementary school celebrates the unique identity for this community. The community’s love for green space is expressed in the many site amenities created on a small four-acre site.
This school is the culmination of a five-year planning process. Faced with several existing facilities that no longer met their educational goals and did not provide sufficient capacity for future growth, the district developed a plan to update their current schools. Partnering with the architects, the district embarked on a facility assessment study that set the stage for their community engagement strategy.
Transformation is by its very nature defined by the past. Having not built a new school in over 70 years, the district wanted to modernize their facilities and provide 21st century learning opportunities. With this replacement school, the district was no longer confined by the bounds of their existing building. The new facility creates grade level pods with shared collaboration areas, a large group instruction space, a broadcast studio, and many outdoor spaces for learning.
Star of Distinction Category Winner