Kansas City, Mo. – The Association for Learning Environments (A4LE) held its annual Southern Region Award Program virtually on January 26, and Hollis + Miller Architects is excited to have received the Project of Distinction Award for Ellen Ochoa Elementary. The A4LE Award Program recognizes outstanding educational facilities in the Southern Region, and Ellen Ochoa Elementary was recognized for sound planning and a positive impact on teaching and learning, as well as a supportive physical learning environment and strong community engagement.
Part of Union Public Schools in Tulsa, Okla., Ellen Ochoa was built to accommodate an influx of students and serve as a community resource. Named after the first Hispanic female astronaut, the new elementary school is the first purpose-built community school in the district, providing 21st century learning spaces for 1,100 students. Community members were included throughout the design process to provide feedback and incorporate community values into the new environment.
“From the beginning, Hollis + Miller led us through a design process resulting in a beautiful, effective elementary learning space unlike any other in the state,” said Charlie Bushyhead, Union Public Schools Associate Superintendent. “We were able to create spaces that responded to the needs of our students and staff, and highlight the district’s support of all students.”
The new design promotes flexibility and versatility to support a wide range of learning styles. A central media commons, complete with a learning stair and flexible breakout spaces for groups and individuals, is surrounded by academic neighborhoods guided by colorful wayfinding and exciting environmental graphics. One of the project goals was to provide a community hub for well-rounded experiences encouraging lifelong learning and overall health.
“The dream of Ellen Ochoa being a hub for a community village is coming true with the construction of a full-service health clinic and community gardens,” said Bushyhead. “It is everything we hoped for… the indoor and outdoor spaces were all designed with kids in mind and availability for non-school hours for the community.”
An on-site community garden provides space for community members and families to harvest fruits and vegetables, which can then be prepared in the community kitchen, providing hands-on experiences for students.
“The community’s personality shines through in this project, and we are so lucky to have been a part of bringing this to life with the district and this incredible community,” said John Brown, Hollis + Miller partner in charge of the project. Additional project contributors include Flintco, LLC, Henderson Engineers, Wallace Engineering and Alaback Design Associates.
About Hollis + Miller
Founded in 1950, Hollis + Miller is an integrated architecture firm designing the future of learning environments, including public, private, K-12 and higher education. Learn more at hollisandmiller.com.