Designing Schools with Regional Appeal

Fort Logan Northgate 3-8 School, Sheridan, Colorado

When it comes to education, there is almost no other place Americans invest as much work, hope and energy into the future as they do schools. 

At Wold, we design smart, sustainable schools that make innovative teaching and learning possible. And we recognize that one design solution doesn’t fit all communities. In fact, we partner with educators, communities, and school staff to learn and focus on the region’s cultural history to then design a school and campus that reflects its surroundings. With that base, we then study the student population, teaching methodologies, technology needs, the site, its climate and how it will fit into the landscape. 

We also consider aesthetics. Schools are iconic in each community and we place a high priority on design. The need for beauty isn’t an add-on or special consideration – it’s a critical element in a building that will touch the lives of many people. 

“In Antonito, Colorado, the community wanted a facility that expressed an understanding of their history as a historic Hispanic community,” said Wold Senior Designer Job Gutierrez, AIA, LEED ® AP. “We listened to their needs, and that gave us access to a tremendous artistic and architectural tradition to draw upon.” 

In designing South Conejos school district’s facility, Wold tapped into visual motifs and color to bridge traditional adobe architecture with contemporary educational design to connect the younger community members to their heritage. The school also features two outdoor learning courtyards and a “plaza” – both architectural cues commonly seen in community buildings in New Mexico and Mexico where the climate encourages classes to meet outside. 

South Conejos PK-12 School, Antonito, Colorado

“For another client, Wold realized a psychological boost was needed to counteract the impact of decades in sub-standard

facilities in an area beset by economic challenges. Sheridan High School wanted a design that met educational goals and had a ‘wow!’ factor to help the town move forward,” said Gutierrez. “We infused their enthusiasm for education with a beautifully designed facility by integrating natural light into welcoming and energetic learning spaces that feel healthy and supportive.” 

Wold takes many things into consideration when designing a school: The population, the regional culture, the teaching methodology. We are proud that in our 21st century, advanced landmark educational facilities help prepare students for a global future while featuring visual elements rooted in regional values.

Designing Schools with Regional Appeal: Six Criteria

  1. Architecture that connects to local traditions
  2. Historical and cultural references
  3. Outdoor learning spaces that expand the classroom
  4. Abundant daylighting for healthy indoor environments
  5. Comfortable, social gathering spaces
  6. Use of local materials and construction technologies