Richard R. Oliphant Elementary School

Desert Sands, California

Desert Sands Unified School District members voted unanimously to build a new, innovative elementary school. Through the use of simple forms and materials—plaster, corrugated metal and perforated metal—this project creates beautiful, supportive learning spaces. Inspired by its natural desert environment, the dark red buildings are animated with accents of color, serving as an organizing and wayfinding element. An entry canopy welcomes visitors and is a support structure for solar panels that will be used as a teaching tool.

Three villages organized around a central courtyard provide security for the campus and protection from the wind. In an environment where wind is a major obstacle for exterior activities, the design team created a protected exterior oasis for kinder play and provided outdoor collaborative learning spaces. Bioretention planters were designed throughout the site for stormwater runoff treatment.

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