Tucked into the western shadows of the Spring Mountains, the rural community of Sandy Valley is a historic and culturally rich community with a now transformed future built upon sensitive growth, an impart of values and home-grown development. The Sandy Valley School project for a new elementary school and high school athletic fields is the second phase in an expanding K-12 educational campus and is quickly becoming the epicenter of this community.
Crucial to the design team is a systematic and contextual design approach with users and the environment. The ecosystem of the Mojave Desert is a delicate balance between flora and fauna that all play integral roles in thoughtful/considerate desert-growth. This building programmatically takes users from the young, sheltered kindergarten grade level and progresses them throughout the building. The design team likens this process similar to a seedling growing in the earth…or… This natural progression in many ways draws comparison to the process germination of a seedling sprouting upwards out of the desert soil. At the appropriate time plants will sprout, shed seeds and create further growth across a wider area and this progression drove the orientation, layout and spirit of this school. This building is setup to release elementary students into an immersive campus experience instead and continue their education here in Sandy Valley.
The picturesque environment is one that the design team sought to protect with low profiles of the building forms, a materiality that mimic the desert palate and building form that subtly nestles into the natural slope of the Valley. This project provides 10 classrooms including STEM, flexible learning space, dedicated kindergarten classrooms as well as special education space, administrative offices and amenities in a single consolidated building. All of these spaces are purposefully sited with abundant natural daylight for stimulated learning, ecological awareness, improved occupant health and minimized energy demand.
The new elementary school building consists of sand-colored metal and desert-colored masonry and was designed to become a part of and inspired by the surrounding landscape. It is sited immediately south of a recently completed gymnasium and creates a courtyard that processes from the heart of the campus sloping down to the athletic fields where students will have a state-of-the-art all-season, competition-level football and baseball fields and field house. The simple, contextual and highly developed building design merges multiple styles on this campus and propels a cohesive campus style into future development.