When elementary school students in Arlington, Texas, want to look at how big Asia is when compared to their home state, they have no need to crack open a book. No, the school is not discouraging book study, but the children have been offered a different way to see the world. Large maps in the school’s three outdoor courtyards give the elementary students some perspective of the world, our country and their state.
Construction of Adams Elementary School commenced in spring 2012. The courtyards were part of the school’s original design and were intended to be outdoor learning areas.
“They turned out great,” says the project’s lead architect Jamie Barnes, of Fort Worth’s VLK Architects. Decorative concrete professional Paul Studebaker, of Arkansas-based American Concrete Concepts Inc. led the placement and detail work. General contractor Buford Thompson also helped bring the project to life.
The three 1,500-square-feet courtyards contain a map of Texas, a map of the United States and a map of the world. “It was a very complex project because everything had to be scaled right in these large courtyards,” says consultant David Stephenson, of Polished Concrete Consultants LLC. “The visuals that they decided to go with worked out so well. They took an unused courtyard and turned it into something that could be regularly employed in the education of the children.”
Once the artwork for the map was settled on, it was sent to Rachel Bruce of FLOORmap Stencil Designs, who translated the drawings into full-size plastic templates. An acrylic textured concrete overlay from Elite Crete Systems was sprayed onto them. “It’s a spray-on concrete mix with color in it that sprays on in a very thin layer,” explains Barnes. “Then a sealing coat was placed over that.”
Several indoor collaborative learning centers overlook the courtyards.
“Those maps and the courtyards are very prominent throughout the school,” says Barnes. “You can see them from many areas as you go through the school, so they are definitely a focal point and they add to the overall learning areas of the school.”