GALLUP, N.M. — Gallup-McKinley County Schools recently broke ground on the new Del Norte Elementary School. The new facility is scheduled to open in January 2017.
The future Del Norte School will combine the campuses of the Juan de Onate and Washington Elementary in a modern, energy-efficient facility adjacent to the existing Washington Elementary, which is scheduled to be demolished, according to a statement by project architect Van H. Gilbert Architect PC (VHGA) of Albuquerque. The new two-story, two-wing building will sit on an eight-acre site and house pre-K-5 classrooms, a cafeteria and gymnasium, and administrative offices.
In the efficient design, classrooms radiate from a centralized core. The gym and cafeteria occupy a separate wing, and wide hallways and gathering spaces support group activities. The clean, contemporary architecture of the masonry and stucco building is accented by metal panels and details and responds to its context and climate, according to a statement by VHGA.
“The new Del Norte School will provide pleasant, light-filled, and technologically up-to-date classrooms and plenty of outdoor play space for the students, and a cafeteria and gym space that can be secured and used for community events,” said Serge Kalajdzic AIA, VHGA’s project architect, in a statement. “We sited the building to take advantage of natural light and to protect against harsh winter elements by placing the entries and play areas on the south side of structure.”
Throughout the school’s planning and design, the architect has been working closely with the school district, the New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority and the families of the students who will attend the new school to ensure the end product meets all needs. “Few architectural projects are as rewarding as working with a community to design a modern learning environment that supports the education, culture and wellbeing of their children,” said Van H. Gilbert FAIA, president of VHGA, in a statement. “We are pleased to be working with such thoughtful and forward looking collaborators.”
“The opportunity to unify two separate elementary schools on one campus is going to be of great benefit to the community,” added Ronald Triplehorn, director of facilities for the school district, in a statement. “Beyond the savings in operating costs for one, modern, energy efficient building, we believe the expanded interactions that the larger student population will have with one another and their teachers in a facility specifically designed to meet their educational and social needs will have a deeply positive impact.”