Aledo ISD—Walsh Elementary School
Architect: VLK Architects
New elementary for 792 students. The design provides a variety of choices for task-focus or casual spaces, giving students responsibility for their own learning, while teachers facilitate. Instead of traditional classrooms, grades are organized into learning communities feature collaboration spaces. Located on a sloping site, the 2 story compact plan is the feature point of a new community located on the western edge of a urban growing center.
This design supports the district’s instructional expectations, as well as ease of student circulation and supervision, while providing a safe and secure learning environment. The upper/entrance level houses Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade students, while the lower level serves 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. Classroom area is extended for students via Collaboration areas adjacent to classrooms. Teachers are provided Professional Learning Studios for instructional planning needs.
A compact two-story design nestled into the hillside site reduced the site area and project costs. Learning environments are extended throughout the building with widened corridors outside classrooms incorporating collaborative areas with learning walls and windows into classrooms. Cafeteria, gymnasium and outdoor spaces are utilized by the community after-hours. Efficient MEP systems, low maintenance and durable interior and exterior materials provide savings to the district today and tomorrow.
The building’s compact two-story design nestled into the hillside reduced the required site area while providing multiple outdoor areas and views from all rooms within the building. A geothermal ground source heat pump system utilizes the earth’s natural cooling/heating attributes to maintain a comfortable and energy efficient learning environment. Special function glazing is used for the windows that automatically adjust the glass tint according to exterior sunlight conditions.
As the first new non-residential building in a master-planned community, the design creates the benchmark for quality and architectural style and signals the district’s commitment to their children. The school accommodates district and community functions through shared use of cafeteria, gymnasium and outdoor spaces. Student pride in the new school enhances their learning experience.
Population growth in the district dictated prototyping an existing school design. A one day work session with district/campus representatives and the architects identified project goals and the type of learning environment desired. A site assessment exercise, review and consideration of building plans and campus tours lead to selection of a plan which aligned with the district’s belief in engaging curriculum, instruction and student learners, providing for student and professional collaboration.
Innovative spaces provide for transformed instruction. Students experience an extension of their learning environment with innovative areas outside classrooms. Students can take their technology needs with them around the school., and recharge their devices. Large group areas allow teachers to design lessons for a variety of curricular needs as well as a student group size.
Star of Distinction Category Winner