Weaving a Town’s History in Architectural Design

Salida School District, Longfellow Elementary School PK-4, Salida, CO

For its new PK-4 elementary school, the Salida School District knew it wanted to incorporate the town’s history, character, culture and natural environment into the facility design. Looking to the local mining and railroad structures for inspiration, the facility features historical structural elements, such as railroad water tanks within wood “stick frame” structures. To balance history with modern educational needs, the academic wings are designed in pods of four classrooms of the same grade around a commons space, encouraging student engagement and fostering transparency, from environment to environment. Each pod has a small breakout space for student small group use.

In addition to its personalized design, the school is a CO-CHPS Verified Leader, with a 70-point rating. The CO-CHPS system focuses on education-specific criteria such as indoor air quality, daylighting and acoustics critical to learning environments. It also looks at the use of sustainable and energy-efficient materials and design practices.