Coppell ISD—Richard J. Lee Elementary
This new, compact, Net ZERO, 2 story transformational learning environment is visually open and makes excellent use of space. The client desired a nontraditional curriculum and the exterior expresses this unique plan. The design provides a variety of choices for task-focus or casual spaces, giving students responsibility for their own learning, while teachers facilitate. Instead of traditional classrooms, grades are organized into learning communities placed around a central collaboration space.
The exterior reflects the innovative learning environment within. A showcase for the district, the building serves as a community by making available the gym, instruction, dining, and outdoor spaces. Small learning communities inspire a sense of belonging and community. The building serves to transform the community by exposing it to the transformational education model within and through engagement opportunities like continuing education, exposure to sustainable design, and technology.
Varied types of learning zones are created to accommodate each student’s learning preference, be it focused, active or collaborative. The open design provides connectivity, transparency, and inclusivity while promoting informal supervision. Support spaces give way to learning. Dining becomes a collaboration and performance space. The library transforms into an extension of the small learning communities. Even the exterior normally reserved for play or support becomes spaces for active learning.
The design was driven to support a non-traditional curriculum. The vision was defined by stakeholders touring commercial and educational buildings, performing pedagogical analyses and developing design strategies that supported goals to inspire, celebrate, and create. The process went beyond the project by redefining the entire district’s vision and recreating its culture in response to the work of the Visioning Institute resulting in a transformational school district and learning environment.
This building, designed to achieve LEED Gold, is the first Net-Zero elementary in the State. The building is designed as a teaching tool with visual graphics used to educate students and community about sustainability. Geothermal HVAC, gray water usage, locally manufactured materials, and 100% LED lighting are just some of the sustainable design features. The design incorporates advanced energy modeling to optimize the plan and building placement while controlling the impact of solar gain.
Being Net ZERO, the facility produces as much energy as it uses. The school itself is a tool for learning with all spaces providing the students a choice in their education. The entire area is a flex space with only a few movable walls allowing flexibility and adaptability for continuous school transformation. All surfaces within can be used for learning, while outdoor spaces provide further opportunities to explore and experiment. Outdoor gardens enable students to grow, eat and compost food.
In this innovative challenge-based school, students comes first. Unique spaces provide inspiration for learning from individual to collaborative. From indoor personal spaces to collaborative outdoor gardens, 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.
Star of Distinction Category Winner