As the 50th elementary school for the third largest school district in the state of Texas, Deanna Swenke Elementary School is 104,767 square feet with a student capacity of 1040. Swenke evolved from four previous prototype elementary schools developed by IBI Group for the district, dating back to 1998.
As the prototype evolved and the educational curriculum changed over the years, the prototype plan migrated from an open concept plan to a semi-open concept plan. This new plan began to organize itself into classroom pod groupings with access to all classroom spaces from two primary corridors. The evolution of the prototype occurred based on user input and educational curriculum changes and culminated in the final Swenke plan, with a simplified organization of the classrooms into pods of four classroom groups that allowed groupings for team teaching and collaboration between teachers and students.
The plan also clearly separated the noisy spaces of the gym and cafeteria from the academic side of the facility, with the main commons corridor serving as the acoustic buffer space. This main corridor also serves as the primary circulation spine and gives a unique visual identity to the campus, both internally and externally. The administration suite was located at the prominent front corner of the main spine to allow administrators to have visibility of both main entries for passive security, and it also employed a transparent, yet secure, entry vestibule that required visitors entering the campus to only be allowed access after checking in with the receptionist. Four dedicated science spaces and four multi-purpose rooms are all centrally located in the core of the academic wing, which allows access to these spaces from all the primary classroom pods.
The architectural vocabulary and style for Swenke was developed from the surrounding neighborhood that had a significant Texas Hill Country influence. The exterior design incorporated Texas Hill Country stone accents with warm brick colors and incorporated familiar Hill Country elements such as suspended canopies for shade and shelter, as well as metal roofing in traditional grey colors, while still keeping the overall identity of an elementary school. The interior colors and materials were also selected from a soothing, muted earth tone family with simplified geometric patterns found in many of the contemporary Texas Hill Country buildings common today.