2019—Howard Dobbs Elementary School

Rockwall ISD—Howard Dobbs Elementary School
Architect: VLK Architects

Replacement elementary on an existing sloping site.


“Stakeholder-inspired design honors the campus history and acknowledges its proximity to the historical downtown area. Classroom wings provide grade level areas with collaboration spaces for accomplishment of project needs. Views are provided throughout the building to support achievement and promote a healthy learning environment. Design supports the district’s instructional expectations, while providing a safe and secure learning environment.”


“Compact two-story school allowed the existing campus to remain in operation while its replacement was constructed. Creates a prototype plan to meet the district’s growth and campus replacement needs. Widened halls feature student collaboration spaces. Accommodates district/community functions through shared use of cafeteria, gymnasium and outdoor spaces. Lowered construction and maintenance costs through efficient MEP systems, low maintenance and durable interior and exterior materials.”


“Building on the same site as the existing campus allowed the communities’ urban fabric to remain unchanged. Utilization of efficient MEP systems, low maintenance and durable interior and exterior materials saves resources and eliminates harsh chemicals in the learning environment. Daylighting in every learning space provides a healthy interior environment and visual tie to the outdoors. Protection and inclusion of beautiful old trees in the site design enhances overall campus feel.”


“Reusing the existing site preserves the communities’ urban fabric. Exterior materials tie the campus to the adjacent historical downtown area. Accommodates district and community functions through shared use of cafeteria, gymnasium and outdoor spaces. Student pride in the new school enhances the learning experience for all. Community was engaged in design process through a community charrette. Inclusion of professional development spaces signals the district’s investment in teachers.”


“Community engagement through a two day charrette was paramount to the design process in replacing the oldest school in the district adjacent to the historical downtown area, outcomes included: Desire to honor the heritage of the existing campus and adjacent downtown area. Architecture should support curriculum, instruction and student learners, provide for student collaboration, professional learning studios, and outdoor learning. Incorporate daylight/views. Incorporate existing old trees.”

School Transformation

Unique spaces provide inspiration for learning from individual to collaborative. From indoor personal spaces to collaborative outdoor spaces, education happens everywhere. The instructional model and the building design supports hands-on learning tailored to individual learning styles that allow students to develop their critical thinking, problem solving and presentation skills through collaborative and team-based opportunities.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner