With a growing student population and the need for more classroom space, community members in Eudora, Kan., voiced their support for one large community school instead of multiple smaller schools. The new 130,000-square-foot Eudora Elementary School, which opened last August, is designed around a small learning community (SLC) concept to reduce the scale for young students.
Using Dr. Seuss’ Oh the Places You’ll Go as inspiration, designers aimed to introduce students to different worldly environments and incorporate the "world" into the building design.
Ecosystems are the overarching theme of the school. A unique biome gives identity to each of the five SLCs. Biomes—Arctic, Aquatic, Desert, Rain Forest and Savanna—provide wayfinding inside the school and incorporate learning within students’ daily environment.
The five biomes come together at the central media center, which represents a large, communal gathering space at the center of the world. Glazing between the media center and main corridor showcases a collection of student handprints, which collectively compose the world’s continents. At each end of the map are inspirational quotes from Dr. Seuss: "Oh the Places You’ll Go!" and "Kid You’ll Move Mountains!"
The design enhances student learning and understanding of geographic regions and climates. The biomes divide the 1,000-student school transparently into five, 200-student elementary schools to encourage student-teacher interaction and small group learning. The key to this concept is the strong interior design, which identifies and differentiates each SLC.
Architect is DLR Group (Overland Park, Kan.).