Parkhill was contracted by Ector County ISD for the design of three, site-adapted, 21st-Century (21C), prototype elementary schools: Buddy West, Buice and Downing Elementary. Parkhill kicked off the design process with a series of design charrettes with school administrators, teachers, parents and high school students. Each group was educated on the tenets of 21C principles and then given the tools to design their ideal layout for the school. Additionally, the design was guided by a list of watchwords such as Safe, Integrated, Collaboration, Discovery and several more.

The final design is a two-story elementary designed around six central hubs (one for each grade) for collaborative teaching which are surrounded by smaller learning studios that feature folding glass walls. Each school has a large cafetorium with a black box theater and a colorful gym and playground. The learning studios and hubs are filled with colorful, moveable furniture, including wiggle stools. And, instead of a centralized library, bookshelves are found all over the school with grade-appropriate books arranged by hub.

After the first full school year in the new elementary schools, Parkhill conducted end-user surveys on the schools’ teachers, administrators, parents and students. The overwhelming response from all of the users was that the schools upheld the watchwords and created a fun and fluid environment where the students enjoy learning while teachers enjoy the use of state-of-the-art classroom design that enhances the educational experience for everyone.