Pleasanton ISD—Pleasanton Elementary School
Architect: LPA, Inc.
New Elementary School to replace existing elementary school.
With a 1,200 student elementary school, it’s important to reduce scale and make buildings feel approachable. Massing is lowest at the street and steps up to reveal dynamic outdoor learning areas. The building is organized around the outdoor learning and linked by 3 anchors–Learning (library), Unity (cafeteria) and Pride (gymnasium). Exploration programs, like science and art labs are stacked in a single centralized wing to promote supervised cross pollination of students during passing periods.
To accommodate creeping grade levels, an extra classroom is integrated into each wing and is only required in overflow situations and can otherwise be used for collaboration. Wide corridors allow teachers to pull groups out for different learning experiences. This provides more teaching space with little area increase. Simple massing/durable materials provide a resilient building envelope relating to the local vernacular. Costs are reduced by use of efficient systems and durable finishes.
When the town’s motto is “Live Oaks and Friendly Folks”, it is imperative that you maintain as many trees as possible on your building site. This undeveloped site had over 1,200 inches of heritage trees and by carefully arranging the classroom wings and sports field along with the parent and bus drop off lanes, over 73% of the trees were saved. One of these heritage Oak trees is the focal point of a major stair tower and acts as the anchor for the student play area.
This school replaces a campus with 9 separate, difficult to secure buildings. Once remote, the new site is across the street from both the junior high and primary school. A traffic study helped determine the best ways to convey parent and bus traffic. Public spaces such as the cafeteria and gymnasium are on the edges and welcome civic and sport use. The school capitalizes on the gifts of its site and engages with the native Oak trees and prevailing breezes in its outdoor learning spaces.
In early visioning sessions, the team asked both administrators and faculty how they would define success for the new school. Meeting the needs of the students, being conducive to learning, promoting joy and excitement for the students, fitting into the community, fostering pride, respecting the existing site and honoring the traditions of the school family were all paramount.
With a goal of attracting/retaining teacher talent to help students succeed, the school has presented an opportunity to create learning academies that spill out into widened corridors allowing for team teaching. Alternative learning spaces are created with an outdoor amphitheater and outdoor huddle spaces equipped with writable surfaces and even a sink for cleanup. Communal spaces like the media center and the exploration labs are along the intersections of the classroom wings to promote unity.
Star of Distinction Category Winner