To modernize and capitalize on the benefits of a school consolidation, the Racine Unified School District successfully passed a referendum to replace several outdated elementary schools that no longer met the district’s requirements. Zimmerman played a pivotal role, providing architectural and engineering design services for the construction of Olympia Brown Elementary School, a new independent establishment catering to students from 4K to 5th grade.
The new school is designed around a “house concept” which provides clusters of classrooms arranged to facilitate multiple “schools within the school.” The plan is organized around a central core of shared spaces, which includes library, art, music, health and administrative offices. A central spine through both the common and classroom areas provide unobstructed sightlines for educators and administrators.
The classrooms are organized into distinct wings, each designated by a unique color and pattern that corresponds to a specific grade level. This arrangement not only provides a physical separation for students in different age groups and grades, but also fosters a sense of organization within the school through a color-coded system that allows students to easily identify their designated areas.
Neutral colors dominate the common areas, such as the lobby, corridors, and library, with accents of the school color, blue. Additional shared spaces, including a versatile gymnasium and cafeteria separated by a common stage, facilitate various assembly activities. The cafeteria design incorporates color-changing lights with floor patterns that mimic the natural daylight patterns throughout the year. The school also features a fully equipped kitchen and a comfortable teacher’s lounge.
Ample natural light floods the interior of the school through large windows, creating a welcoming and vibrant learning environment. The exterior of the school has also been enhanced with paving, a dedicated bus loop, a separated parent drop-off loop, employee parking, and thoughtfully designed landscaping. Stormwater management features, such as swales and ponds, have been implemented to ensure efficient water drainage. Through this ambitious project, the Racine Unified School District has embraced progress, ensuring that students have access to a modern and functional educational facility that meets their evolving needs.