Cypress-Fairbanks ISD—Sadie Harris Woodard Elementary School
Architect: PBK Architects
The program for this new elementary pioneers a new direction for primary educational environments in one of the fastest growing districts in Texas. It effectively responds to modern-day teaching and learning applications that are driving Next Generation education. Its unconventional plan aligns perfectly with new educational initiatives established by a user-driven design committee and serves as a prototype for future campuses that will welcome new students to the area.
The campus design blends seamlessly into the context of its surrounding residential community. Shared parking, fields, playground, bike trails and sidewalks all play a community role within the neighborhood. Shared community spaces (gym, café, library, etc.) are conveniently adjacent to parking areas and can be isolated by overhead grilles. Demonstration super-graphics and learning kiosks provide interactive learning opportunities for daily users and community visitors.
The plan prioritizes natural light in each learning community. The footprint accentuates a centralized courtyard and an interior circulation plan with a curved “bridge” separating quiet and loud programs. Interiors showcase attractive, durable stone walls, LVT flooring, floating ceilings, clerestory windows and bold paint colors with earth-tone accents. Super-graphics highlight ecosystems, government and applied learning (math, currency, etc.); kiosks illustrate building performance.
Design committee stakeholders envisioned the school as a global, interactive learning center for students & community – a destination filled with enrichment activities such as student clubs, tutorial sessions, sciences & cultural arts. Community input was a top priority in formulating the plan. An unexpected change of site during design (mid-stream) required close collaboration between architects and district representatives in order to maintain the original project schedule.
Learning kiosks illustrate the building’s high-performance and eco-friendly design features. The campus features a science garden with cistern and watering beds, as well as 20 photovoltaic energy panels. Building interior design maximizes use of natural light. 88% of 625 tons of material removed from the site was recycled. The campus design solution adheres strictly to criteria dictated by TX-CHPS (Collaborative for High Performance Schools).
The learning and circulation spaces are periodically segmented by transparent partitions that tuck away to expose larger collaboration spaces. Shared community spaces (gym, café, library, etc.) are convenient to parking and can be isolated by overhead grilles. A masonry exterior shell with metal panels and stone accents is durable with nominal maintenance. Need for interior artificial light reduced by prioritization of natural daylighting. Constructed for the lowest regional cost/SF at the time.
Grade-specific educational themes are expressed through super-graphics, murals and learning kiosks. A centralized circulation area showcases an interactive touchpad that controls the color of an overhead LED fixture, which changes to match color-coded utilities and systems (conduits, duct work, technology, etc.). Exposed utilities provide direct visual observation of building function. Flex rooms in each learning community provide agile learning spaces for fluctuating educational applications.
Star of Distinction Category Winner