2019—Bob and Lola Sanford Elementary School

Van Alstyne ISD—Bob and Lola Sanford Elementary School
Architect: WRA Architects

District’s second elementary a new concept, the product of District-wide collaboration. Major goals were to enhance Next Generation learning, technology access throughout, flexible learning environments, and natural light. Grades PreK-1 are on the ground floor, grades 2-5 upstairs. Includes landscaped courtyard for outdoor learning activities. Classrooms are secured from night activities in Cafetorium, Library, and Gymnasium. Zig-zag corridor walls create break-out spaces adjacent to classrooms.


After a very public planning process, a Design Vision was set: Create a new concept for Next Generation learning with flexible spaces, natural light, ample technology, and encourage more interaction between students, teachers, community. Dedicated “Parent Dining” area. Zig-zag corridor walls create Collaboration Areas next to classrooms giving teachers more flexibility with students. To keep an 80,000 SF school compact, a two-story option was selected. Youngest students are on the ground level.


Project’s computerized Energy Management System maximizes energy efficiency in the building operation. Materials were selected for long life cycle and low maintenance reducing both maintenance and replacement costs. Extensive recycled materials used throughout. Indigenous plants adapted to the local climate reduce irrigation, save water. To reduce cost, the project was designed 100% in 3D BIM enabling potential conflicts to be resolved before construction, preventing costly changes in the field.


Flexible and varied learning spaces give young students more options on how and where to immerse themselves in the learning process. Wide, zig-zag corridors allow teachers to share and monitor break-out spaces. The building’s U-shaped floor plan surrounds a landscaped courtyard, providing a secure area for outdoor learning activities. Student health and well-being enhanced in classrooms with natural light, exterior views, superb acoustics. Optimum solar orientation, shaded South-facing windows.


This school serves as an all-hours destination and multi-purpose facility for and brings together many groups in this close-knit community. The two story classroom wing can be secured from the public, allowing nighttime activities secured from the classrooms. Many from the community at-large participated in the design process. Public use spaces include the Cafetorium, Library, and Gymnasium. The Gymnasium includes a full-size basketball court and also serves as the school’s EF-5 Tornado Shelter.


A well publicized planning process included parents, teachers, District administrators, support staff, and the architect. The District is transitioning to Next Generation learning methods and making curriculum more relevant to the students at all grade levels. This new building concept is specifically configured to buttress that effort. Major goals were to support and enhance Next Generation learning; convenient access to technology; flexible learning environments; and natural light throughout.

School Transformation

The District is implementing Next Generation learning methods and new relevance to their curriculum. This school is an entirely new concept specifically designed to support that in a tech-intensive, flexible, exciting, unconventional learning environment. Includes an EF-5 Tornado Shelter. The U-shaped plan surrounds a landscaped courtyard, providing secured areas for outdoor learning activities. The Cafeteria, Library, and Gymnasium are secured shared-use areas for the community after-hours.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner