The architect was asked to renovate and expand a 40-year-old elementary school into a LEED-certified facility for 21st-century learning for grades K to 5.
Butterfield Trail Elementary School was constructed in the 1960s and added on to in the early 1970s. It is historic in two contexts. First, it is on the Butterfield CAPACITY600COST PER SQ FT$109.95FEATURED IN2011 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYRenovation stagecoach route that ran from Tipton, Mo., to San Francisco in the 1850s. Second, the school originally was designed as an open classroom learning environment, and continued to operate without classroom walls up until the renovation. The district’s desire was to pay homage to both of these historical aspects while modernizing and expanding the school to accommodate a growing enrollment. Programmatic requirements called for doubling the existing footprint in order to accommodate 600 K-5 students.
The Butterfield Trail history is referenced in the form of the entry element, which recalls the spokes of a stagecoach wheel and the curving front facade that symbolizes the route the trail took, sweeping south from Missouri through Arkansas into Texas before heading west to San Diego and then up the California Coast. The material selection of wood, rustic masonry and weathering steel evokes the stagecoach era, and red and yellow accent colors in the building are taken from the traditional stagecoach colors.
Although maintaining open classrooms was determined to be detrimental to instruction, several aspects of the open plan were incorporated. The classrooms for each grade level are organized around open collaborative spaces, the cafeteria/commons is open and at the heart of the school, and window area was increased for natural light and transparency.