Flowing Wells Unified School District

Tucson, Arizona

Completion Date
Fall 2020


Open for more than five decades, the historic Walter Douglas Elementary School is undergoing a campus-wide renovation to create a modern learning facility for its students. Built in 1963, the architecture utilizes thin-shell concrete roofs on the circular classroom pods. The roofs are dramatically fluted (like a clamshell) for structural stability, and for visual effect. Designed by Architect, John A Shaver, a driving force for modern architecture in school design, the school is special because it’s a rare surviving example of thin-shell concrete construction and a unique example of the formal possibilities of this construction type.

The new design is intended to excite students, parents, staff and the community as well as to be a source of pride for the neighborhood and community and to reinforce FWUSD’s flight-based learning vision while preserving it’s historical roots. The new 40,000 SF, two-story classroom building will provide maker spaces, a media center, and a computer lab along with 24 new classrooms. The new design supports FWUSD’s flight-based curriculum both functionally and aesthetically. The new building elements will be reminiscent of aircraft construction by using lighter metal. The school will feature themed pathways like the “Flight of the Bumblebee Trail”, a “launch pad” to serve as an outdoor learning space, flight-related experiments and lessons, a flight deck balcony, jet liner windows and a cock pit alcove that offers amazing views of the Catalina Mountains and gives students an understanding of what’s really like to fly! The renovation also includes renovations to existing classroom pods, updated administration spaces traffic improvements and site upgrades.

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