2019—Shirley Dill Brothers Elementary School

Alvin ISD—Shirley Dill Brothers Elementary School
Architect: GPD Group

New elementary school designed to accommodate rapid growth in new subdivision.


Small, comfortable flexible learning areas, liberally distributed throughout, lure students, and support classroom and small group activities. Natural light inundates these learning areas, making them desirable destinations for all learners. The library, which is the focal point of the campus, makes a powerful impression on arriving visitors and students alike, and includes a playful story time area. Colored glazing casts shapes on walls and floors that are marked to evince the sun’s movement.


A compact design and simple shape reduces the length of the exterior wall, lowering the cost of construction. The shortened perimeter also limits the exposed surface area, lowering cooling costs. The approximately $170 per sq. ft. project cost is evidence of efficient design and effective use of materials.


Perimeter classrooms have large shaded windows allowing daylighting and connection to the outdoors. Solatubes perform the same function, forcing daylight into interior learning spaces. Both systems provide a connection to the outdoors, and are a tool to understand the sun’s movement.


Setting the two-story structure back from the perimeter of the site preserves the scale of the neighborhood and its single-family homes while communicating the importance of the school to the community. The mostly brick exterior compliments the surrounding homes. Three sides of the property offer easy bicycle and pedestrian access to the campus without crossing a major thoroughfare. The major thoroughfare on the fourth side allows quick access to the site from surrounding neighborhoods.


The District established a committee made of representatives of recently constructed elementary schools to work with the design team to develop the Project Program. The committee shared their experiences, emphasizing what made the other campuses work. The two groups worked closely together to develop a program and design to accommodate traditional educational programs and implementation of the District’s 21st Century learning strategies.

School Transformation

The new campus supports all learning styles in groups of all sizes. Small flex learning areas provide a setting where individuals or small groups proceed at their own pace. Classrooms and small learning spaces enjoy a strong connection to the centrally located library and easy access to the resources therein. Larger flex learning areas make gatherings of more than a single class possible, and provide a setting for project based learning and other activities not suitable for classrooms.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner