LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
Evocative of a time in which Las Vegas gained early notoriety as a destination for both locals and celebrities to share in newly established neighborhoods in an otherwise desolate community, the Rex Bell Elementary Replacement School celebrates the memory of place through a variety of design considerations.
Providing a safe and vibrant learning environment was of primary concern for the design team. Given the on-going challenges present in the neighborhood surrounding the site a unique strategy for the building massing allowed for a series of internal activity areas which are not impacted by such external challenges. After hosting a multi-day design charrette with teachers, staff, students and community members the design team presented an overall design concept that would serve as the basis of our collective vision for the school.
Beyond providing insular classrooms and standard learning environments the design team sought to advance the character and function of otherwise neglected spaces. As such, the main circulation corridor along the northern portion of the facility was expanded without impacting the overall area. Core functions were moved into the center of this zone and thus provided for a wider interior that serves as both an area for circulation and breakout educational opportunities. This zone is oriented from east to west and benefits from a series of large skylights which provide daylighting throughout the space. Furthermore, the organization of the building program creates courtyards that serve as special outdoor learning environments for programs such as the school’s garden-to-table program and the kinder play area.
Collectively, these deliberate gestures support the overall goals of the design team while addressing the requests of those who participated in the charrette. This facility successfully situates itself on an existing site and allows for the construction process to occur without interruption to the existing buildings on-site which must remain operational. The new Rex Bell Elementary seeks to continue the legacy of its 1964 predecessor and is to remain a tribute to its namesake.