2015 — Prestwick STEM Academy

Little Elm ISD—Prestwick STEM Academy

A rapidly growing District sought to relieve exceeding capacities of its elementary and middle school facilities by creating a new K-8 Academy. The vision was to introduce STEM curriculum and 21st Century learning to the historically rural, now suburban community, and redefine learning to create future global leaders. The result is a compact 2-story and highly efficient learning environment with flexible and adaptable spaces that offer the learner multiple learning venues throughout the day.




The design of this facility was centered on the vision of a non-traditional classroom environment. Six learning houses provide multiple learning activities, so that learning can happen everywhere throughout the day. The learning environment promotes community, collaboration, flexibility and exploration. This Academy offers abundant choices for the learner, from shared classrooms, labs, and large open areas, to varying sizes of smaller spaces, movable furniture as well as outdoor learning.

Stars of Distinction Planning

The district underwent a Strategic Design Process re-inventing the way they would be delivering instruction. The design team was a part of the process for a better sense of how the spaces should be built. To include the community in the process, parents, students and faculty also participated. From these sessions, a general consensus guided the development of the site plans, floor plans and 3-D renderings that were a true reflection of the values and goals of the district and community.


Designed at 20% less square feet than the typical, this school creates a smaller footprint while maintaining all programs. There is highly efficient use of space as all areas are used throughout the day. Natural views promote a healthy environment and provide ample light. A 10,000-Gallon cistern collects/stores rainwater for irrigation and acts as a teaching tool on conservation. The brick and stone cladding were sourced locally, and vehicular use is reduced due to proximity to the community.

Stars of Distinction Value

The site of this facility is designed to share infrastructure, utilities and parking with future district facilities thus reducing overall maintenance costs. The compact 2-story building is exceedingly effective and versatile in its use of space. Highly efficient air conditioning system and daylight sensors reduce operating costs. All six houses are used throughout the day, as different age groups engage in a variety of educational activities, providing limitless opportunities to learn.

School Transformation

Learning studios were created to break the campus down into small learning communities. Each learning studio area includes classroom areas, with support spaces as well as large flexible, open working areas. The team rooms include a folding marker board wall between them, that can be open all the way or partially, as it is made of individual panels that allow for diverse configurations. All team rooms have glass sliding walls to the hallways and collaboration spaces.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner