School in the Trees

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Austin ISD‘s district standards set high expectations for the design teams regarding care the projects show in their design towards the environment and its occupants. An AISD project – Doss Elementary School is a great example of how the school districts goals were incorporated in not just how the building got located on site, how it interacts with the surrounding nature and how the building is designed to achieve higher energy saving goals by achieving LEED Silver goal at a minimum and min. two stars under the Austin Energy Green Building rating system. The design approach for Doss Elementary school came about in collaboration with the local school community to deliver a 21st century learning environment that provides high quality learning spaces that provide a multitude of learning opportunities and opportunity to support teaching styles. In addition, the design supports fluctuations in student population without utilizing portables, increasing class sizes, or adding onto the building through multipurpose collaboration spaces. A key decision at the onset of the project for locating the building was based on maintaining the existing wooded area and established tree canopies without compromising it with trying to fit a building within it. Outdoor learning was integrated throughout the site, both in the front yard and backyard and these unique site features providing a variety of opportunities for learning and engagement. The building provides opportunities to connect with nature inside the building at various levels creating experiential and meaningful spaces throughout. These connections to nature are known to enhance user comfort, wellness and health. The design team went through an integrative design process with all disciplines and the owner from early stages of design to ensure high levels of building performance, efficiency and effectiveness of every system in the building ensuring that the building shows care towards the resources during its many years of operation. Project was designed to take maximum advantage of daylight and views and special care was given to acoustics and indoor environmental quality to ensure human health and comfort. Project is on track to achieve LEED Silver certification.

#1: How a collaborative community engagement process enhanced the design of the building to meet the individual needs of the local school community.
#2: Design of a 21st century learning environment that provides educational flexibility of space as well as flexibility in student capacity that limits the initial size of the building while providing long-term growth strategies without using portables, incre
#3: How sustainability principles and inclusion of nature drove the overall design concept by rebuilding an existing school on the existing site without compromising the park feel and incorporating nature into the design of the building.
#4: How the building provides a multitude of space styles to best fit the individual needs of each student and teacher, to help them feel at home in the school and achieve their highest potential.

Design of Educational Facilities: Acts as a resource to the design team in providing ongoing guidance and support to ensure that the emerging and ultimate design aligns with the established community vision, education goals, future programming, written design standards, best/next practices and education policy.

Community Engagement: Leads the internal and external communities through a discovery process that articulates and communicates a community-based foundational vision, forming the basis of a plan for the design of the learning environment. The vision is achieved through a combination of rigorous research, group facilitation, strategic conversations, qualitative and quantitative surveys and workshops. Demonstrates the skill to resolve stakeholder issues while embedding a community's unique vision into the vision for its schools.    

Josh Sawyer, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C, Architectural Planning Leader, Stantec
Josh is a LEED accredited licensed Architect with 13 years of experience in educational facility design and planning. Josh has a unique combination of skills in design and project coordination that gives him a global understanding of many educational design projects. Josh also serves as Architectural Planning Leader, bringing together the knowledge of educational design and planning in a role that serves our clients and connects resources across offices to deliver high quality planning services.

Drew Johnson, PE, Director of Bond Planning and Project Controls, Austin ISD
Drew is the Director of Bond Planning and Project Controls at Austin ISD, with diverse background in consulting. He has vast experience in assessments, planning, design, cost estimating, construction oversight, and quality management, including vertical construction and civil infrastructure. Drew is a licensed professional engineer currently pursuing a Masters of Business Administration at The University of Texas in Austin.

Eddy Santosa, AIA, CBCP, LEED AP BD+C, BEMP, Director of Sustainability, DBR Engineering
Graduating from MS in Architecture at University of Pennsylvania and MS in building Science at National University Singapore, Eddy Santosa has more than fifteen years’ experience in sustainable design and architecture/building industry. Eddy has been involved in establishing energy efficient strategies and passive design analyses for many projects in USA and around the world. His works range from developing master plans to providing project management and energy simulations on projects.

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