West Columbia Elementary is a 95,600-square-foot elementary school with capacity for 800 students in grades pre-K to 6. It is a representation of Columbia Brazoria ISD’s commitment to investing in sustainable design. The district believes that buildings have a profound impact on the environment, economy, health and productivity of those who inhabit them and has chosen COST PER SQ FT$100.83FEATURED IN2007 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYCommon Areas adopt sustainable strategies. These strategies can reduce negative environmental impact, lower operating costs, increase comfort, raise test scores, and improve productivity and attendance. The design team also researched how students learn and how their environment affects learning, and incorporated these principles into the design.
Because a “box” was not acceptable, classroom pods were arranged to offer group meeting spaces and maximize natural light. Tile patterns in the hallways were configured to teach mathematical concepts, from simple counting blocks in the lower grades to much more complex patterns in the upper grades. Areas of the building were left exposed, enabling the students to see how the internal mechanisms of the building operate. The key feature of the building is a solar clock situated at the main intersections of the commons. The design team determined the exact longitude and latitude of the building site and incorporated a Roman numeral-style solar clock in the tower. Throughout the year, a shadowline form projects from sloped glazing above to indicate current solar time.
The science labs and art rooms open into a protected courtyard; a cistern collects water from the roof and stores it for later use in the science labs.