2015 — Pope Elementary

Cypress-Fairbanks ISD—Pope Elementary

This project in a large fast growth district, was budgeted by the district as a prototype at $135/sf. However, it was decided a new design was warranted for the same value. Collaboration with the district’s curriculum & facilities staff prioritized objectives including taking advantage of the site; master planned community; design supported acoustically sound Pre-K/K classrooms & open concept older grade classrooms; integration of green concepts for teaching & learning; and designed for TX-CHPS.

Stars of Distinction Community

The massing of the school, roof shapes, & exterior materials are derived from neighborhood homes & community buildings. Planning produced space for a community garden to be irrigated via cistern, which also serves as learning tool. The building’s design allows for the use of multiple spaces by community groups, including library, gymnasium & cafeteria while controlling access to administrative & academic areas. Playgrounds are accessible to the community during non-school usage times.

Stars of Distinction Design

The design allows learning in 2 stories, housing Pre-K-2 grades downstairs & 3-5 grades upstairs. Energy efficient systems reduce costs & support the district’s green curriculum. The design team studied the acoustics needed to enclose Pre-K/K classrooms & support open concept spaces that included flexibility for older students. Meeting the priorities of the district & as a learning tool to teach science via learning balcony, collaboration spaces, exposed systems & welcoming library.


Planning occurred with district facilities & curriculum staff to create a 2-story open concept design that allows flexibility for teaching & learning. Fluid multi-level student movement is achieved with the placement of grade level pods extending flexible learning space for inquiry-based instruction. Instructional tools support science curricula such as a cistern, solar array & wind turbine. The design meets TX-CHPS standards & non-wax floors were integrated campus-wide.

Stars of Distinction Sustainability

The school serves as an investment in children, as the green concepts articulated in design function as learning tools & support the environment. Daylighting enhances student achievement. A wind turbine & cistern help teach alternative energy harvesting & support future interests in these career areas. Students make connections to their environment & nature via the learning balcony designed to support science, &exposed building systems help students understand how their school “works.”

Stars of Distinction Value

Budgeted by the district as a prototype at $135/sf; it was delivered for $126/sf with upgraded interior finishes & low maintenance materials while expanding the district’s open concept instructional belief with transparency & flexibility. Purposely designed flexible spaces zoned for shared use with community allow for egress, security, & efficient HVAC use. The building’s energy use index is 1.34, compared to the average Texas range of 1.45-1.52.

Stars of Distinction School Transformation

21st Century learning skills are realized in flexible collaborative spaces designed for mastery learning of content & development of soft skills. Transformative spaces evolve with students & transcend future teaching methods by extending each grade level pod via glass operable walls, allowing large & small group & individualized learning equipped for wet & dry projects & progressing technology. 21st Century learning, green concepts & connections to the community are realized here every day.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner