Housman Elementary School required a unique and highly tailored response to successfully meet District needs and satisfy community concerns. Significant design challenges included a defining grove of large trees bisecting the tight site, restricted site access to one side, offsite utility locations and campus security concerns created by a major thoroughfare bordering the east side of the campus with fast and loud vehicular traffic and heavy pedestrian traffic.
Strategic placement of the new building on the site maximized the site to capacity. It saved a number of historic oak trees and allowed a maximum amount of green area for the students to play and learn. This green area serves as a buffer for noise, provides student safety and allows visual observation of parking lots. A separate entry off a community road was designed for deliveries. A handsome brick wall separates the campus from the adjacent neighbors which also functions as a sound buffer.
Viewing the campus from the classrooms was deemed a necessity so all classroom windows were designed to face interior courtyards on the first floor. Northern facing upper story windows provide natural lighting into the large two-story main corridor. This corridor organizes the campus for student movement, serves to help secure the campus and divides the taller noisier public spaces from the quieter classrooms. There are three two-story “fingers” extending from the main corridor with green courtyards between them and a required fire lane on the backside. These are visible through curtain walls on each of the public stairwells.
The District had a vision of “playful and colorful” spaces for their students. A collaboration between the Design Committee and our A/E team resulted in the development of learning pods, creativity centers and common areas. Our team paid special attention to creating a whimsical elementary school with open vistas. Primary colors set the tone for the interior and exterior elements.