Sol Harris Day Architecture

Hills Elementary has a rich history within the community that could not go unnoticed as part of the new design. Dating back to the mid 1800’s, the original building served as a one room schoolhouse with additions made as the community felt the need for more educational spaces. In 1945 the school was renamed to what we know today as Hills, to honor the Hills family that donated the original plot of land in 1841 and another in 1891. Fast forward to the 1960’s, as the community saw increasing enrollment numbers, it was time for another change and a new building was built. Now in 2021, the renovations at Hills will accommodate the ever-changing educational practices, and new technology.


  • Master Planning
  • Visualizations and Graphics
  • Facility Assessments
  • Space Utilization
  • Visioning
  • Architecture
  • Interior Design
  • FF&E
  • Estimating/Scheduling

Project Goals

During the planning process, the architectural team hosted a Visioning Session with educators, administrators, community members, and students where a variety of goals were developed to drive the project:

  • Student - Centered Learning: Students are and should remain the center of all decisions.
  • Team Collaboration: Education should abandon isolated teaching practices and embrace technology.
  • Inclusion / Center of Community: All students, learning styles, and families should be accommodated.
  • Flexibility: Each space should have multiple uses for an ever-evolving educational approach.

Building Organization

The renovation at Hills Elementary encourages students to discover and experience 21st century education within the original 1960’s footprint. By spatially re-envisioning the building, new areas were created where square footage was previously under-utilized. Small group rooms and an extended learning area serve as an extension to the classrooms, as well as impromptu meeting spaces, allowing for more collaboration.

All grade levels are now housed within the building, making it more dynamic and efficient. The new reception greets visitors and parents at the entry of the building where the library was previously housed. Spaces such as library, art, and music rooms are centrally located, providing easy access to all students. Every classroom is equipped with a set of double doors, allowing for easier flow of students, flexibility in furniture, and mobile technology.

Preserving History

As one walks through Hills Elementary, there are some items to keep an eye out for as the renovation pays homage to the building’s history:

  • Existing brick walls remain both inside and outside the structure.
  • The terrazzo compass flooring design remains a part of the new space.
  • The bell from the mid1900s addition is displayed by the gymnasium.
  • A new design and placement for the 1960’s original dedication plaque.

Interior Concept

Here at Hills Elementary, children will experience the stages of the water cycle as if they were a single drop of water, starting in the creek as a Creek Camper, and ending as precipitation landing on top of a mountain as a Mountain Ranger. The new layout of the school was designed as a learning tool in conjunction with the concept. Each grade level is branded with its own color and “badge” to encourage spatial discovery while also serving as wayfinding cues.

Warm wood tones and conceptually painted trees and mountains nod to natural elements within the built environment, promoting cognitive development and lowered stress levels. Mobile furniture and seating variety encourage collaborative interactions and support posture changes. Technology is integrated throughout with interactive TVs on mobile carts and ceiling mounted speakers to enhance teachers' voices, providing alternative options for group projects and collaboration.


  • Originally built in the 1960’s... this major renovation to the building was intended to make the building look and function like a brand-new student-centered learning environment.
  • The design completely transformed the entire building. Classrooms were reshaped and updated to interconnect with glass double doors, connectivity, views and more flexibility.
  • Extended-learning and small group areas were created and are used as break-out spaces for project-based and independent learning.
  • Durable products with easy maintenance were a priority to the district.Taking this into consideration, non-permeable flooring and bleach cleanable upholsteries were chosen throughout the school.
  • The exterior has outdoor learning spaces, along with improved traffic and safety improvements.

Meet the Team

  • Domenic Ferrante
  • Burt Marzley
  • Todd Rainsberg
  • Carolina Silva
  • William Duncan

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