Sheffield Elementary School

Sheffield Elementary School in Dallas, designed by LPA Design Studios, features six learning ecosystems promoting innovative learning modalities, collaborative teaching, and individual support.

  • area / size 90,000 sqft
  • Completed 2022
  • Location Dallas, Texas, , United States
  • One of the first schools in CFBISD to implement the updated educational specifications supporting schools for the 21st century, Sheffield Elementary School is designed to develop “creative, tenacious, collaborative and joyful students.” In a diverse district where more than 60% of students are economically disadvantaged, the new campus focuses on supporting the individual student, facilitating innovative learning modalities and fostering a team-oriented approach to teaching.

    The 90,000-square-foot building is composed of six “learning ecosystems” organized around a central courtyard. Each ecosystem contains a complete suite of learning and support spaces for one grade, with six classrooms circling a shared collaboration space, and direct connections to an outdoor learning lab. Support spaces for teachers in each ecosystem enable collective management of the classrooms and a collaborative approach to curriculum development.

    Each ecosystem has three types of classrooms, each with a different focus on a spectrum from traditional to transformational. Spaces dedicated to teamwork and design thinking offer pin-up areas, tack-able surfaces and furniture that encourage student collaboration. Two are project-based, with resources for experimentation, tinkering and making; two more are standard classrooms, designed primarily for teacher-led activities.

    The collaboration space at the center of each ecosystem emphasizes community-building and enabling teachers to connect with students. Four zones serve distinct learning activities, from the teacher-led “we space” to the play- and movement-based “free space.” “Team space” enables small groups, while “peer space” is designed for independent study and inquiry-based learning.

    To address efforts to improve literacy, the main library is designed as the heart of the campus — the first thing visitors, parents and students see when entering the front doors. Each ecosystem has its own mini library to enable reading in a collaborative setting and make resources more accessible. Signage throughout the school employs layers of lettering, color and shape to engage early readers.

    Each ecosystem includes features intended to make teachers’ process more efficient. The Teacher Learning Center gives instructors a place to huddle, collaborate and model the behaviors they want to see from students. They also have a break room with a fridge and microwave, and an adult bathroom, all accessible without leaving the ecosystem.

    Every element in the LEED-certified facility — the district’s first LEED certification — reflects a focus on human health and energy efficiency. Outdoor learning opportunities are emphasized. The school’s C shape creates equitable access to the central courtyard, which is furnished with outdoor equipment for play and learning. Cutouts in the floor plan for each ecosystem create science-focused courtyards, each geared toward the content being learned at that grade level.

    Design: LPA Design Studios
    Contractor: Jackson Construction Company
    Photography: Costea Photography