Ross Baldwin Elementary School
With a thoughtful focus on conserving natural resources and creating a stimulating environment to support a desire for learning, Ross F. Baldwin Elementary School embodies the belief that the physical and natural environments can engage and support learning on many levels. The elementary school serves 650 students between the grades of Pre-K through Fifth Grade. The 86,882-square-foot school houses 38 classrooms in the two-story building with a shared art, music, and computer lab in a one-story wing. The cafeteria and physical education room serve a dual purpose as a combined large assembly space. The library and administrative suite border an entry courtyard that leads to the centralized double height ‘Bobcat’ Hall. Bright colors are employed throughout the interiors.
An evaluation of the site, long-term facility benefits and potential expenses led the design team to include multiple strategies to minimize site disturbance, conserve water and energy, and select materials based on regional sources and recycled content. Abundant daylight provides an enhanced indoor environment, with reflective light shelves in the classrooms and exterior sun control devices. Each of these areas of focus reveals itself in compelling spaces and forms throughout the building.
The design and combined sustainable features of the school – which achieved a three-star rating from Austin Energy Green Building – encourages student learning and responsible stewardship for the environment. The landscape design includes native or naturalized planting and preserves hundreds of existing trees that inhabit the site. Much of the irrigation of the site is supplied through rainwater harvesting at key locations around the building perimeter.
Baldwin students have responded and championed recycling and composting programs. Attendance records place Baldwin Elementary in the top 10% of all schools in the district. Not only is attendance high, but staff agree that the students seem energized to learn and make a difference in the community.