O.W. Dillon Elementary
The new O.W. Dillon Elementary School incorporates several innovative strategies to create optimal learning environments. The initial challenge was not solely to provide a standard educational facility but also to re-evaluate the space-planning that activated the school and increase the contact time between educators and students. With O.W. Dillion Elementary School being in an underserved community, the proposed solution to this challenge was focusing the design process towards leadership and empowerment.
To enable the building to become an integral tool for learning, with the help of the school administration, H/S developed a theme for O.W. Dillon Elementary based on leadership by incorporating graphics, quotes, and spaces dedicated to local, national, and global leaders. H/S reached out to community members and students, asking them to submit quotes from their favorite heroes and leaders to create the graphics that would be displayed throughout the school. Seeing the quotes daily will instill a level of discovery and encouragement for students from pre-k- 6th grade. Involving the community to take ownership of their school not only empowered the community but activated the school with a spirit of strength for future young minds and educators.
The New Elementary School for O.W Dillon Elementary provides learning facilities for approximately 500 students in grades pre-k through 6th. The plan’s layout is separated into three wings, each of which is anchored by a large programmatic function; administration, media center, and cafetorium. Because of the significantly contoured site, the three wings are incrementally stepped down a hill. The wings are connected with transparent ramped corridors. Each of these helps create a courtyard space used as an outdoor hard surface play area. The classrooms are particularly special because of their “fat-L” configuration. This layout allows for flexibility in learning environments and various activity areas. The corridors are widened periodically to allow for “out of class” activity space and display area. The exterior design capitalizes on the expressive qualities of brick detailing, as Kentwood is widely known for is brick production industry.