Sam Houston Elementary School

January 2019   Port Arthur, TX


  • Port Arthur Independent School District


  • Harrison Kornberg
Key Points

The thoughtful outdoor design at this PAISD campus enhances the overall functionality, sustainability, and aesthetic appeal of the school.


The project offers hands-on learning opportunities in outdoor environments, enriching education through direct experience and interaction with nature.


Through careful design choices and resource management, the project emphasizes environmental responsibility, promoting long-term ecological health and resource conservation.

The school’s program includes a range of spaces, such as a gym, library, computer labs, playgrounds, and integrated life skills areas for Pre-K through 5th grade. To bring the campus to life, the design prioritizes natural light and culturally significant colors that resonate with the local neighborhood.

One of the key design aspects focuses on providing outdoor learning opportunities. This includes two science gardens at the east ends of elongated parallel courtyards, featuring themes of ecology and technology. These gardens offer students hands-on educational experiences while promoting sustainability through rainwater capture and habitat support.

Several play areas are strategically located across the site, each featuring playground equipment, engineered wood fiber fall surfaces, and subsurface drainage connected to the storm sewer system. Shade trees and raised berms create a safe and comfortable environment for outdoor play. Furthermore, landscape enhancements, such as shade trees, benches, and walkways, are integrated into primary campus entry areas. The project’s commitment to sustainability is exemplified by the use of excavated soil to modify site topography, reducing costs and adding ecological interest with no-mow prairie and wildflower planting. Additionally, the limited use of irrigation helps conserve water resources.

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