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Austin ISD Allison Elementary School

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Drawing Up Community Support

Throughout the design process, McKinney York sought feedback via dual language community meetings, envisioning exercises, listening sessions, and surveys to ascertain which aspects or qualities from the existing facility should be incorporated into the modernized school.  A video animation was used to present the design to the community stakeholders.

Project Details

Emerging from an earnest community engagement process, the core values of Austin ISD Allison Elementary School are expressed through the design of an inclusive, safe, and flexible learning environment. Organized around a central courtyard, the school’s form references its dragon mascot – a hard, protective, shell-like exterior that encircles a soft, verdant outdoor learning space in the belly of the campus. The programs are arranged in two distinct volumes, with the goal of cultivating a strong sense of place and belonging. The learning spaces form an L-shaped two-story volume that acts as the school’s anchor, grounding it to the site. In contrast, a single-story linear volume contains the administrative and community spaces, which offer support for students and teachers alike.

The song ‘De Colores’, a traditional Spanish-language song which speaks to the beauty of nature, served as additional design inspiration. Translated as ‘All the Colors’, the ‘De Colores’ concept comes alive through the vivid colors, rhythms, and patterns of the exterior building elements. Flowing into the interior spaces, a variety of colors, textures, and biophilic elements are integrated into the design to promote wayfinding and identity. Incorporating the concept of ‘De Colores’ connects Allison Elementary to the vibrant culture of the surrounding neighborhood in a way that is both meaningful and educational. The result is a school that celebrates its community in a child-oriented, culturally resonant, and timeless way.

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