Houston ISD—Charles Atherton Elementary School
Architect: IDG Architects, Inc.
Atherton Elementary was designed as a 21st Century school which accomplishes the needs and goals of our client. The caveat of features include vivid bursts of color, natural light, shared activity spaces, moveable walls, flexible seating arrangements, and sustainable design based on the criteria outlined by Houston Independent School District.
Flexible learning spaces can be found throughout the interior and exterior of the school. The building acts as a learning tool by the use of a color coded system to differentiate mechanical systems and structure. Numbers were also scored into the stairs to further enhance interactive learning. Sustainability is encouraged by use of recycle bins and student outdoor/roof planting gardens. The design incorporated extensive use of color and natural daylight throughout the facility.
Exterior elements of the school consist of stone, masonry and metal panels. Other design elements include sun shading devices, metal canopies, and outdoor gardens. The team added clerestory windows to bring in natural light along the main artery including northern light that filters in at the second level. Flexible learning spaces were incorporated to inspire different levels of learning. Additional areas included a Cafetorium, Performing Arts wing, and student outdoor/roof planting gardens.
An instrumental element to the design was to make the facility earth friendly. To obtain LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building council, the facility includes a green roof with native plants for landscaping, utilizing local materials, installing high efficiency energy system & high-albedo roofing for ongoing accountability of building energy consumption and provide daylight and views into regularly occupied areas. LEED Silver is pending.
The key element of the design focusing on community, a truncated sphere, we call the history rotunda. It will display biographies of former students who attended the school in the past who played an important role as mentors, educators and politicians. Moreover, the Entry Plaza will display names of people who contributed and have been a part of the success and continued success of the school such as Barbara Jordon, Mickey Leland, El Franco Lee, Harold Dutton, George Foreman, Dr. Ruth Simmons.
The goal was to make Atherton a 21st Century elementary school to enable students to foster creative thinking, flexible problem solving and collaborative learning. Research played a significant role in transforming the school into the learning tool it is today. We involved the community in the design process through interactive briefing and design charrettes. By engaging the community, students, and staff, we fostered a long lasting relationship, and provided an effective learning environment.
The school blossomed into a 21st century school by creating an environment that facilitates student- centered learning and active learning. Flexible learning spaces can be found throughout the interior and exterior of the school. The building acts as a learning tool by the use of a color coded system to differentiate mechanical systems and structure, and numbers were also scored into the stairs to further interactive learning.
Star of Distinction Category Winner