Menchaca Elementary School

Principal Eliza Loyola and her colleagues didn’t see a closed door – they saw an opportunity. A bond was passed in 2017 to bring campuses like Menchaca into the modern educational landscape, allowing for the creation of a new facility that not only addressed Austin ISD’s educational specifications, cultural makeup and long-term goals, but went above and beyond to provide a one-of-a-kind learning experience for the school’s students. Austin ISD is unique in that school principals are given the reigns and tasked with choosing designers and builders for modernization projects like Menchaca, and Loyola took full advantage. After a thorough selection process, she settled on LPA, Inc., which in turn selected Wilsonart to provide surfaces for several of the school’s high-traffic, functional and innovative spaces and applications. Wilsonart’s broad portfolio of engineered surfaces helped LPA address the location’s unique needs and  provide a truly high-performance, safe, and beautiful learning environment for Menchaca that is asengaging as it is inspiring.

MEETING LOFTY EDUCATIONAL, FUNCTIONAL AND COMMUNITY INFLUENCES

When LPA and interior designer Maria Jankiewicz set out to complete Menchaca’s modernization, a ide range of design influences needed to be considered. These influences and design goals included:

An Integration with the Outdoors:

The Menchaca team and LPA wanted an intentional integration with nature that features careful attention to heritage oak trees, outdoor spaces (particularly when traversing between buildings), large windows and a focus on natural light, and more.

Sustainability:

While LPA’s original plan to design the modernization effort to LEED® green building program certification didn’t come to fruition, sustainability, wellness and environmental consciousness were all key factors.

Cultural Inclusion:

Austin is a very culturally diverse city, and Menchaca is an excellent representation of that multicultural nature. Every member of the Menchaca ecosystem needed to feel welcome and inspired.

Flexible Learning Environments:

The new, modernized Menchaca needed to include makerspaces, collaboration and other flexible learning-focused elements that promoted active learning while also allowing for an easier transition for those teachers and staff unaccustomed to this method of pedagogy.

BRINGING FLEXIBLE LEARNING TO LIFE CHOOSING WILSONART TO BRING DURABLE HIGH PERFORMANCE SURFACES TO ACTIVE LEARNING SPACES

To supplement these efforts, LPA needed surface materials that not only provided unmatched aesthetics, durability, and cleanability, but supported the well-defined goals for the modernization of Menchaca. Specifically, LPA specified Wilsonart® Solid Surface for the Resource Center’s Reception Desk work surface, the wall dividers in the school’s library, the large bulkhead between the school’s library and an adjacent hallway, and on top of built-in trash containers throughout the school. Wilsonart’s Solid Surface was chosen for its ability to provide a variety of benefits throughout the campus, such as: increased durability and longevity in the face of the stressors of a school environment without sacrificing functionality and design. Being non-porous makes this product easy to clean and maintain. Solid Surface is also a renewable and repairable surface that can always be restored to like-new condition. Wilsonart® HPL was also creatively used in combination with Wilsonart’s Markerboard Laminate on all classroom built-in cabinets. These unique, writable surfaces were one of the most critical surface materials specified for meeting Menchaca’s flexible education goals, providing a collaborative, easy-to-use surface enhances the instructor’s ability to engage the students and provide elevated learning experiences. “Just having the opportunity for teachers to move around the classroom … (and) having the opportunity for them to use the millwork as a teaching space really opened up a lot of opportunities for them and even for the students,” Jankiewicz said.

A MODERN, ENGAGING AND INNOVATIVE SPACE SET TO PERFORM FOR YEARS TO COME

“I think Wilsonart offers a great variety of finish options and things like that, so that plays a huge role in the selection,” Jankiewicz said. “Going back to the (initial) LEED requirements – we found Wilsonart’s LEED documents easily accessible. Even the relationship with reps (like San Antonio-area rep Zane Land) and with Wilsonart helps, too. “There are other laminate and solid surface options, but we’ve definitely had a good experience with Wilsonart.” The end result for Menchaca is a truly stunning, collaborative, functional, and inspiring campus built with sustainability, performance, flexibility, and beauty in mind, as well as supporting Austin ISD’s Six Cs for modern learning environments – critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, cultural proficiency, communication and connection. “It’s a really beautiful space, but it’s also a space that has a lot of flexibility in terms of what kids can do and where kids can work,” Loyola said. “In that sense, and I’ve said this from the beginning – the adults have to keep up with the kids and the way that they think about how to use the space “In the last two months, I’ve gotten to see some really amazing things.”

FEATURED PRODUCTS

Wilsonart® Solid Surface Pearl Mirage 9199mg

Resource Center service desk, library wall tops and caps, and hallway bulkhead.

Wilsonart® HPL Skyline Walnut 7964K-12

Classroom and, breakroom cabinets, hallway trash receptacles.

Wilsonart® Markerboard Laminate Frosty White 1573

Classroom cabinets.

 

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