Aldrich Elementary School

This cutting-edge school creates a new student experience, strategic connections, and spaces for the community to come together.

A new elementary school was needed to accommodate the rapidly growing enrollment of the Cedar Falls Community School District. Fielding International and ISG Architects (formerly Struxture Architects) came together to design a central hub and several wings serving students from preschool through sixth grade. The school embraces modern learning through its inclusion of Makerspace, ESTEM rooms, and a media center and library named the “Curiosity Center.” The cafeteria and gymnasium are separated by a moveable wall partition, and a slightly raised stage provides space for performances of art, theatre, and music.

Emphasis was placed on providing an abundance of glass to maximize daylight to classrooms, commons spaces, and administration offices. Daylighting zones further reduce an already low energy usage from an LED lighting system. An empty conduit in the Makerspace to the exterior was planned to install a future, small solar panel array for the children to learn about and experiment with sustainable energy production.

Two classrooms at each grade level have a folding partition between them with one having an overhead garage-type door that opens them up to a common area. With plenty of technology and soft seating, students are able to work in small groups or gather for whole-grade presentations. One of the four classrooms in each grade is called the DaVinci studio, a larger space with extra storage, the difference is the open ceiling and the tile floors. Power cords hang from the ceilings for stations where students engage in project-based work and science labs.

The latest in classroom and collaboration technology include short-throw projectors mounted above the markerboard, creating an interactive learning environment in each space. Commons areas encourage collaboration with technology connections located in floor boxes throughout the space for individual or group assignments but can be easily converted into a classroom setting by a simple push of a button at the teacher’s station to allow all of the individual screens to share the same content. Enhanced classroom amplification was also incorporated in all classrooms throughout the building to accommodate any specific learning needs the teachers may encounter.

Project Data

Location: Cedar Falls, Iowa

Type: New

Size: 84,705 SF

Cost: $19 Million

Date Opened: 2018

Design Team: James Seaman, Justen Dippel, and Mike Yager