Schools As Civic Architecture

This Guest Opinion by Juana Gómez of Lawrence and Gómez Architects  appeared in the Boulder Daily Camera on September 25, 2011

Excerpt: A few days into this school year, the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee held its regular meeting at the new Columbine Elementary School. Principal Guillermo Medina welcomed our group and shared his enthusiasm for the project, “This is what a school should look like. You can see that just by having a new building, the kids are walking tall and proud through the hallways.”

This fall many Boulder Valley families returned to renewed school buildings. Others are enjoying the maturing landscape of remodels completed a year or two ago. As a direct result of the work, some schools like Casey and Manhattan have included into their curricula the study and observation of their building’s energy consumption.

Photo: Bear Creek Elementary additions and remodel by RTA Architects

These school buildings will stand as symbols to our kids of our commitment to their futures. Good public architecture has intangible benefits that include feelings of pride, accomplishment, and a sense of common purpose. At their first school assembly, Principal Medina seized the opportunity to teach civic duty by exhorting his students to take care of their new facility. “You got this building,” he told them, “because they believe in you and in your capacity to do great things.”

As he left the CBOC meeting, Mr. Medina parted by thanking our committee, “Thank you for supporting this community.” Those words are actually meant for you, the tax payers and families of the Boulder Valley School District. Thank you for supporting education.

Now enjoy the fruits of your efforts.