The design concept for Bishop Elementary is grounded in the tenets of Universal Design and Equity. Every feature, every space, every opportunity has been designed to allow every user to have the same experience. This was of high importance to the school district, as Bishop is the home of the district-wide severe needs special education program. By focusing on the experience of these learners, Hord Coplan Macht designed a school that engages and supports all learners.
As a replacement school on the same site, Bishop is designed with an architectural aesthetic that pays homage to the history of the neighborhood. Students are welcomed to this 43,514 sf single-story school by entering into the heart of the building. The entry is flanked by the Learning Commons and flows directly into the Dining Commons. The gymnasium is immediately adjacent and can open up into the Dining Commons through a large operable wall, creating a single large space to support the multitude of all school and all community events. The classrooms are organized in wings north and south of the core, all having equitable access to the shared common spaces. The building is all on one-floor level, as is the exterior play, allowing all students to have the same experiences, regardless of mobility difficulties.
The exterior landscape was carefully designed as an extension of the building. The south-facing fully-fenced play area is a thoughtful collection of paths that create a variety of inclusive spaces, allowing all students to engage in a type of play they are comfortable with. There is a mixture of sensory play, a music corner, and areas of “quiet time” for those students that become over-stimulated. Also, every component of the apparatus is fully accessible allowing each student the same opportunity to experience the joys of play and the outdoors.