2019—Water Park & Planetarium

La Joya ISD—Water Park & Planetarium
Architect: Gignac & Associates, LLP


The District knew the facilities would be used by the students & the community, so the design established a central parking lot, with the facilities around the perimeter. The tennis courts & planetarium were separated from the water facilities. The natatorium and water park were placed are adjacent to one another to simplify the utilities and separate the water activities from the other programs. The District voted to take action to keep educational and social programs available for students.


These facilities were designed to be shared by the District and community in order to share cost, and ease the financial burden on the District, while allowing it to provide additional resources and opportunities for its students. The facilities add value to the education of the students by creating opportunities for them to learn outside of the classroom and participate in group activities and extracurriculars. In addition, they add value to the community by creating spaces for recreation.


In South Texas, communities endure long and hot summers, and temperate winters. Therefore, the people in the area need a place to retreat to get out of the heat and cool off. The District decided to combine this need with its own need for extracurricular educational programs desired by the community. Therefore, we designed a multi-function park facility that can be enjoyed by the community to cool off in the heat, and create a place for recreation, education, entertainment, and gathering.


The planning process began with an on-site design charette where we forged an open dialogue, and understanding of the goals of the District. The District had a strong desire to incorporate facilities that could be used both by their students and programs, and by the larger community, so our design team implemented strategies to separate spaces, allowing them to by multi-function, but to be positioned around a central point for access by student groups and the public users.

School Transformation

The design of these facilities provide users with environments to learn physical activities, social skills, discipline, astronomy, and many other skills that may not be learned in the classroom setting. The Water Park and Planetarium provided spaces where education, socialization, and recreation intersect. Users can participate in extracurricular activities and gather socially. Providing spaces that create such environments enables 21st century students to learn outside of the classroom.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner