Menchaca Elementary School

Austin, Texas

Extensive community engagement leads design of Texas school

Menchaca Elementary School is a design-build for Austin Independent School District, replacing an existing campus in a growing area of south Austin. The 98,600-square-foot campus was originally conceived as a single building with interior circulation, but the design evolved through an extensive process that engaged teachers, parents and students.

The entire process went from programming to permitting in six months. The design features a collection of three buildings with shaded outdoor collaboration spaces designed around the existing heritage oak trees. The buildings form two courtyards linked by a second-story bridge that houses an innovative library media center and makerspaces specifically designed for the school. More than 30 percent of the site is open, vegetated space, creating direct links between the outdoors and learning environments.

Sustainability and energy efficiency were baked into every aspect of the design. Indoor water usage was cut by 30 percent and the overall energy use was reduced by 20 percent, primarily through passive measures such as building orientation, shading and strategic use of natural light. The campus is designed to meet LEED Silver certification, including a commitment to air quality and overall wellness for the students and faculty.

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