Managing & Evalutating School Design and Construction

Learning Spaces

Paradise Elementary School Campus Design

Collaborative >>
Cafeteria/Kitchen >>
Learning Houses >> Art/Music >>
Physical Education >> Media Center >>
Special Education >> Administration >>

  • Learning "houses" based on family design with great rooms, front porches, and outside learning patios in each house.
  • Learning houses can be configured for cross-age groupings or traditional grade-level groupings.
  • There are three "families" of 21 students per house, four "learning and discovery rooms" with daylight lighting, three restrooms, a science and art sink, ample cabinet and counter space, and direct accessibility to outside patios, outdoor learning areas, and the shared "great room."
  • All houses are grouped on a twenty-acre site adjacent to Heavenly Creek and within walking distance of all students in the attendance zone.
  • All houses have independent HVAC units, hubs for up to ten internet wireless laptops per classroom; smart board; digital camera; cellular phone; large screen television/vcr; artifact display areas and display walls; and flexible furniture including tables, chairs, independent study desks, carpet, and adequate room for "floor" reading, lounging, and project development.
  • Each "great room" houses a full kitchen, a "home" office with a telephone, a fax/copy machine, internet access; conference/dining table to accommodate seating for twelve, living room furniture to seat twelve; and "house" library.
  • Each "house" may be utilized after hours, upon request, for family/community functions of any "house" member.

School/Community Collaborative
Paradise Elementary is a neighborhood school. In the design phase, the parents, the faculty, and the community leaders agreed to combine resources to extend the usual parameters of a school as an educational facility into a total community facility. Using integrated funding sources, the design team was able to provide funding beyond the minimum requirements for school facilities in the state. The 25-acre site was designed for multi-use activities.
For instance, the recreation department helped provide funding for the gym, the outdoor field, and the playgrounds. Sponsored recreation department events are regularly scheduled at the facility after regular school hours and on weekends.
Through grants from a variety of environmental sources, the outdoor classroom area, which includes five acres of woodlands, a creek, and a two-acre pond, allows for "real-life" learning activities in all the academic areas. Other public and private schools use the outdoor learning area and local wildlife agencies schedule nature walks on the weekends.
The administration conferencing areas and "great rooms" in each learning house are regularly used by community-based agencies for board meetings and planning sessions. These agencies also plan working lunches and dinners, which are provided at cost through the school nutrition program.
Local businesses hold member meetings and social events in the cafeteria and gym. The media specialist hosts technology classes and parent/child "book" nights.
Due to the beauty of the facility and its outdoor areas, social events such as receptions, weddings, and private parties are often scheduled at Paradise School. The local nursing homes, senior centers, and mental retardation center often join the students at breakfast, lunch, and during special events. Each "learning house" works in close relationship with a social service agency-each adopting the other.
The city houses a full-time facilities and events coordinator in the school administration area who helps to increase the level of collaboration.

Learning Houses
Each "learning house" has four classrooms of 900 square feet each, two covered porches and two open patios, and a 1,000 square foot great room. The great room houses an open kitchen area, office work space, conferencing area, and "home-style" conversation areas. During the day it is used by all four teachers as an additional "small-group" and "large-group" learning area and as the teacher workroom. After hours it used by family and community groups for meetings, birthday parties, and social gatherings.
Each classroom has research, activity, conversation, independent, and group-learning areas. Each also has a sink, water fountain, counter space, and three private restrooms. Each classroom has a telephone, five lap-top computers, internet access, a television, and a levelized classroom library.
All houses have independent plumbing, electrical, and HVAC units. There are large windows in each classroom and a sliding glass door that opens directly to the patio. This allows for ample natural daylight and for easy access to outdoor learning areas. Each classroom has a small "garden" area with outdoor water access.
The sixth grade is housed near the first grade due to a "learning collaborative" that has been developed between the two grade levels.

The cafeteria, at 2,000 square feet, far exceeds the state requirement of 1,400 square feet. Due the number of visitors who join the students for meals on a regular basis, and to the number of outside events, the community opted for this larger facility.
The kitchen, often used by outside agencies, has been expanded to 1800 square feet, 200 feet above the state requirement. There are separate refrigeration and freezer areas for community use. top

Physical Education

Due to the level of use by the recreation department, the gym was expanded to 7,000 square feet and an outdoor field was built for multi-use activities. top


The art and music areas are 1,000 square feet each and housed with the special education resource classes. top

Special Education

The special education resource classes are 800 square feet each. All buildings in the facility are handicapped accessible. Special education students are served as much as possible through the collaborative model. top

Media Center

The media center, at 3,000 square feet, is the learning hub of the school, with easy accessibility from all houses. Students and classes visit the center regularly for "book talks," "author studies," "read with the media specialist," research, publication of student work, and to produce a school television program. Special community guest lecturers and visitors also give presentations for classes or live school-wide broadcasts. top


The administration area has a large atrium and student "artifacts" display area at the entrance. Local and student artists have works on display throughout the administrative area. The entrance has a raised-roof design with expansive window areas. The offices house a reception area for administrators, a receptionist area, offices for a principal, assistant principal for instruction, administrative secretary, counselor, parent coordinator, facilities coordinator, and a secretary/bookkeeper/registrar. There is a teacher work area with copy machines, computer work-station with scanner, telephone, and fax, ample counter space, tables and chairs, laminator, paper-cutter, poster-maker, die-cutter, and snack machines. The large conference room has computer work area with fax, scanner, and telephone, and a television/VCR. The two restrooms have "home-style" fixtures and mirrors. top