2019—Thomas Manor Elementary School

Ysleta ISD—Thomas Manor Elementary School
GA Architecture

Replacement of two underutilized and aging schools with a single new campus to serve 1,142 students in a state-of-the-art facility.

Design—Star of DistinctionDesign

The concept is based on the idea of the flow of the neighboring Rio Grande River. The flow begins at the main entrance, welcoming all as it splashes throughout the gallery, library, offices, and hallways gushing upward towards the interactive learning environments. Spaces support multiple student learning styles, be they tactile, visual, kinesthetic or auditory. Classrooms can be paired together via the foldable marker-board walls or connect to collaboration spaces with sliding glass walls.


The entire building is flexible, easily transforming learning spaces to meet the needs of teaching and learning. Extensive use of local, durable materials including tilt-up concrete and local stone minimized cost and maintenance. Extensive natural-daylighting reduces the use of energy. A simple material palette is enhanced through bold use of color. The learning environment is extended throughout with writable wall surfaces.


The school includes transparent walls and daylighting, paired with LED light fixtures reduce energy use. Xeriscaping in the desert climate is imperative. Areas of artificial turf are used to enhance public spaces near the main entrance. Open structure and mechanical, electrical and plumbing components in the building allow the school to be used as a sustainable teaching tool.


The challenge of replacing two elementary schools with a single campus provided the opportunity to unite two communities together. The new building, linked to the adjacent city park, provides a sense of place for the older neighborhood and has become a focal point in the community. Student pride in the new school enhances their learning experience. The new building advertises to the neighborhood, the school district’s commitment to their children.


The project kicked-off with a multi-day planning session with students, parents, community, teachers, and administrators. Input from this group included both the look of the building and the physical layout of the floor plan. Goals emerging from this planning session included that the building should be a focal point of the neighborhood, incorporation of large social spaces for school and public gatherings, and innovative and creative learning areas to inspire learning and exploration.

School Transformation

Wide flowing corridors transform into interactive spaces for gathering, communicating, working and tutoring. An inviting “study bubble” in the wall creates a unique space for learning. Classrooms connect with writable folding partitions. Transparent view and sliding glass partitions connect classrooms to adjacent collaboration hubs. Colorful modular furniture can be easily rearranged by students to meet their learning needs. The main learning stair is large enough for an entire grade-level to meet.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner