Shiwi Ts’ana Elementary School
The new Zuni Elementary School, named Shiwi Ts'ana as determined by a student contest, consolidates two existing elementary schools into a new building for a Pre-K to 5th grade program. To understand the unique cultural and operational priorities, the architecture and design team worked closely with the district, attended community events, and was invited to student dances. As a result, the architecture reflects Zuni values and history; the building is welcoming, and the school and site features are oriented to maximize views to a culturally significant mountain nearby.
To ease concerns of consolidation, architects and designers met with teachers and staff of the two existing schools to capture the character of the educational community. The new school embraces this unified identity, fulfills all program requirements, increases efficiency, and facilitates community activities.
Inside, educational spaces in the new school are designed to be flexible and technology-rich. Outside, performance areas, garden, and ovens for community use support a range of dynamic and culturally focused curriculum. The curriculum and needs of each grade level are further addressed by providing appropriate age group separation through careful classroom organization, multiple outdoor play areas, and a dedicated kindergarten drop-off.
Architects, designers, and engineers selected systems and materials meant to last for decades and ease maintenance for this rural site. Products are energy efficient, flexible, and durable. While quality materials will maintain the integrity of the building, site improvements will ease congestion by separating vehicle and pedestrian pathways and improving traffic flow through a loop road configuration.