Pella Lincoln Elementary

This public pre-K through 3rd grade school evidence of a close collaboration between designer, school, and town. In addition to providing state-of-the-art learning environments, the building serves as a town landmark and neighborhood resource. The school is located a few blocks north of the town’s central square. With a nod to the area’s Dutch heritage, high gabled roofs usher daylight into two floors of classrooms. The gabled volumes present dynamic cantilevers to flanking streets while buffering the school’s play area to the south from car and bus circulation to the north. The play area, gym, commons, and restrooms remain accessible outside school hours. A path across the site links existing pedestrian routes. The school gives its presidential namesake his due, inside and out. Over the school’s main entry, a back-lit portrait greets students with kindly gravitas. He appears again in the common areas; once in supergraphic form and thousands more times in patterned resin panels embedded with shiny pennies dated to the school’s completion. The school shapes flexible learning spaces at a range of scales. A communal stair and broad, loosely-programmed corridor form the school’s heart. To either side, L-shaped classrooms allow teachers to tailor the environment to their students. Deep child-sized window niches serve as quiet refuges and reading nooks. The school’s nested scales of open-ended enclosure, which establish a playful, nurturing base for exploration, is a direct reflection of the town’s deep-rooted identity and progressive values.

Project Type



Pella, Iowa


53,600 SF