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Bear Creek ElementaryBoulder, Colorado

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"RTA’s designs spend money where it counts. However, the focus on value does not preclude consideration for aesthetics, innovative problem solving or visually impactful design.”

Don Orr, Executive Director of Bond Planning, Engineering and Construction Boulder Valley School District

Before the new design, Bear Creek Elementary School was an internally-focused, open-classroom building with high levels of ambient noise and minimal daylighting in the primary instructional spaces. Educational support spaces were spread across the facility without clear organization or relationship to primary instructional spaces. Additionally, the building was missing a clear community-focused building entry and safe entry points for community use. RTA facilitated a highly collaborative Design Advisory Team (DAT) that established twelve goals and visions for the project, which served as a roadmap to the final design.

The new RTA design provides dedicated art, science, and music classrooms, which centralizes these educational spaces and creates a clear distinction from the primary instructional spaces. A new central spine through the building provides clear internal circulation and reduces disruptions to the open classroom environment. Furthermore, new additions such as, a prominent main entry, a gymnasium, a library, and a cafeteria, enhance daylighting in the building. Also, exterior circulation patterns were introduced to reinforce the new interior circulation and to tie the building to the site and surrounding views.


  • 2012 Merit Award for Built Architecture, Presented by the American Institute of Architects Colorado South Chapter
  • 2011 Summit Design Merit Award for Outstanding Design in Renovation, Presented by Council of Educational Facilities Planners International, Rocky Mountain Chapter