2016—Leta Horn Smith Elementary

Princeton ISD—Leta Horn Smith Elementary
Architect: Claycomb Associates, Architects

This 2-story, 78,490 square foot campus for grades PreK–5 provided a 4th elementary school for an accelerated growth district.  The prototype design aligns with the District’s curricular focus and more efficiently allows the District to keep up with enrollment projections.  As new campuses come online, each one will have a similar floor plan with unique colors and themes for differentiation.  The theme for this campus is “Aim for the Stars.”


The community is named for the man who surveyed the land in the early 1900s, finding the most fertile soil in the county.  Today, the District identifies as a rural school system with strong CATE programming, but proximity to a large, metropolitan area means new growth.  This campus reflects the community partnerships forged to manage the growth. It sits on the edge of a new subdivision, is pedestrian-friendly, and serves as a neighborhood recreation hub and gathering place.


The design is a modern take on classical school architecture, featuring red and white brick and a modern porch with colonnade, welcoming visitors.  Academic wings include collaboration spaces for large or small groups.  Classrooms wrap around and have views into a 2-story media center, the campus focal point.  Public areas are zoned away from academic areas by an “active learning street.”  The separation allows for community use, while maintaining private, secure areas for student learning.


Designers and developers worked together to integrate the new campus into the growing subdivision.  Three driveways get cars safely off the road.  Sidewalks and bike racks foster pedestrian access.  Through a series of staff planning sessions, flexibility, access to technology, shared instructional space, and safety emerged as design goals.  Staff members also created the unique space theme.  The design team worked with staff to conceptualize the goals and build consensus for the project.


The design captures light through strategically placed windows with high performance glazing, shading devices, and skylights.  The electrical load is further reduced by occupancy sensors, daylight sensors, and high efficiency LED lights.  Common areas incorporate 7 north facing light wells to capture indirect light and filter it into the media center, commons, and cafeteria.  The compact plan minimizes site disruption, and an outdoor classroom allows students hands-on learning and discovery.


This campus brings immediate and residual value to the District.  The compact plan is energy efficient, and the layout ensures that all classrooms have natural light.  This low-cost, high performance project came in under budget.  The footprint can be easily placed on other sites, and the prototype plan will speed up future construction time. The floorplan also gives administration more flexibility and adjacencies to shift grade level locations as enrollment or academic priorities change.

School Transformation

Demographers predict that this District will grow exponentially over the next 10 years.  The District could either build a new campus to house the additional students or purchase over 40 portables to accommodate the growth.  The community’s investment in new facilities prioritizes the academic, safety, technology, and social/emotional needs of kids.  A master plan with enrollment guides ensures that students in this District will have the best learning environment possible for years to come.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner