Lubbock-Cooper ISD (L-CISD) is one of the fastest-growing districts in Texas. For the past two decades, each new school that was designed to accommodate rapidly increasing enrollment only seemed to exacerbate the district’s population growth. The new East Elementary School, designed for an enrollment of 750 students, is so different from earlier L-CISD school designs that extra attention had to be paid by Parkhill’s design professionals to demonstrate how teaching might be conducted in this facility. Numerous charrettes with educators, administrators, trustees, and students were held to show that more was possible in the new facility than met everyone’s imaginations.

The elementary school is designed around the 21st-Century school concept of learning neighborhoods. To integrate the learning neighborhoods within the school’s educational environment, the building includes six classrooms per grade level that surround a collaborative hub. Each classroom has the capability to open into the hub by retracting another folding partition. This flexibility of space coupled with easily movable furnishings will give educators the ability to quickly and easily transform their environment to adapt to different modalities required by their students. The building’s exterior and interior are purposely designed to be more inspirational and become a place where children want to come.

One of the interactive learning elements included in the exterior of the building is a historical timeline etched into the sidewalk that extends from the school’s property. By working with the neighborhood developer, new opportunities arose to establish a pedestrian relationship between the school and its neighbors. The timeline serves as an interactive learning tool because it contains permanent placards with QR codes that can be scanned by students, parents or visitors who may walk around the school’s site. The information linked to the QR codes can be changed by the district, so the timeline’s subject matter can be updated on a schedule that supports the school’s educational curriculum.

The school’s interior incorporates bold pop-art graphics and decorations throughout the school’s hallways, acknowledging that each surface in the school is a teaching opportunity or an element for inspiring the students’ thoughts. The main entry’s lobby is called the Discovery Center. Utilizing the idea that each wall surface is a blank canvas, designers planned for a series of projectors with images that can be stitched together to highlight different educational themes on the surrounding walls, floor and ceiling. Like the campus QR code timelines, the subject matter in the Discovery Center can be changed throughout the school year. The Discovery Center can be opened by the district after hours and on weekends, allowing the community to experience the 3-D volume as a visual educational production or by housing temporary exhibits similar to a museum.

L-CISD’s East Elementary is designed to architecturally respond to the monumental shift in their curriculum toward differentiated education. East Elementary is the district’s first structure to completely support 21st-Century education.