Merging students’ interest in gardening and a best-selling book on habits of highly effective people, the concept for Johnston Elementary School in Abilene is evident on its colorful walls of powerful phrases.

The biggest challenge was constructing it in the same site as the original time-worn school, and at the same time classes were being held in the old school. The new 750-student school consists of six learning neighborhoods for kindergarten through 5th grade, administrative spaces, a commons area, kitchen, fitness room, specialty classrooms for science, art, music, dyslexia tutoring, speech and physical therapy, a master librarian and computer area, and ancillary spaces. Function determined what materials would be used. Brick characterizes the learning neighborhoods, for example.

Among the features is a bright, vivid commons area full of natural inspired accents of natural colors. The school provides flexible and collaborative spaces as a 21st Century learning facility. The six learning neighborhoods each house six classroom studios and a shared central hub. The neighborhoods are divided by grade level and provide flexible furniture for the various learning methods. Each learning neighborhood has a dedicated and enclosed outdoor learning area. This space is utilized as an outdoor classroom for student activities; gardening, exercises, reading, and lecture area where students can sit on tiered natural limestone benches under a semi-covered canopy. The design provides the students a modern spatial experience relating to spatial transparency and diversity.

Johnston Elementary School