Helen M. Knight Elementary School
In efforts to improve existing conditions and future needs, workshops led by Grand County School District and MHTN to develop a master plan were held and costs and opportunities were evaluated and it was determined that the two existing elementary schools would be replaced by a new elementary school designed to be a school within a school to separate the lower K through 2 grades from the upper 3 through 6 with shared spaces for cafeteria, multi-purpose, administration and heating and cooling plant to minimize overall costs and ongoing operational budgets. Community workshop “the Green Team”, discussed many items with one very important workshop focusing on sustainability and energy conservation and set goals. Grand County is home to Arches National Park and Dead Horse point State Park and the access to Canyonlands National Park which is just south of Moab but has only about 10,000 residents in the County. Another important part of the program and support for the school was the inclusion of community spaces and use within the school. Many of these residents are here because of the love of the surrounding area and recreational opportunities in the area and are very concerned about environmental issues.
Helen M Knight Elementary School is designed to be distinctly not southwest but more a reflection of the surrounding landscapes and ancient historical inhabitants. The color and massing reflect ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings and color samples from nearby rock formations were used to create the color schemes for both the exterior and interior designs. The school met goals established by the “Green Team”, and it is uniquely a school within a school there are separate entrances and play grounds for the lower and upper grade levels. Each grade level is further identified by having five classrooms dedicated to each surrounding a grade level community collaboration space for group activities. The cafeteria has a folding partition that allows upper and lower levels to have separated dining areas while sharing the kitchen and serving lines and when open the space can serve large school and community functions. The multi-purpose room has a small stage for school programs and athletic wood flooring so that it can be used for County recreation and high school practice gymnasium. The cafeteria and multi-purpose rooms are adjacent to each other and can function together to provide meeting and small convention space for School District and local community use.
The School District and community have been very excited since the school opened in September of 2010 and it is function extremely well. Teachers have commented on how much they enjoy the natural light and the controllable solar tubes that allow them to adjust the amount of daylight that is delivered. Since the school opened the School District has received a grant to install solar panels on the roof something that we had planned for and built into the school and the first arrays of solar panels are now providing sustainable power to the school. The school within a school is working very well and the school operates like small learning communities even though it is home to almost 800 students.
- 2011 CEFPI National McConnell Award Finalist