PreK-4 Elementary School Renovation
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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