Mapleton Early Childhood Education Center Renovation

Boulder, Colorado


Connecting through experience of place.

After having been closed for a decade, Boulder’s iconic Mapleton School required a new purpose. RTA sought to restore the vibrancy of the historic building, while preserving its rich history. The goal was to enliven the school for the community’s youngest learners for another 100 years of use. This required perseverance, cooperation, the convergence of many team players, and ability to overcome a multitude of issues.


Ever curious. Ever learning. Ever improving.

The significant challenges of renovating a 100-year-old building within a historic neighborhood and the change of the building’s function required an open and investigative approach. In order to best complete the project, RTA facilitated a Design Advisory Team, which included community members, teachers, the Landmarks Board, Parks and Recreation, the city of Boulder’s planning team, historic preservation, and traffic departments.


Purposeful, engaging solutions.

RTA’s successful design solution honors the neighborhood’s request for an open, vibrant, and District-wide early childhood education center. The restored school delivers a highly energy-efficient envelope and mechanical system, while preserving the historic building. High, new pressed-tin ceilings, original windows with restored sashes, and refinished original wood floors give students the experience of a historic classroom with modern amenities.

Project Details

  • Square footage: 20,000 sf
  • Project cost: $4.8M

Design Details

  • Energy-efficient envelope and mechanical system
  • Daylighting
  • 21st Century classrooms
  • Modern vibrant education spaces while preserving historic nature of the building
  • Collaborative Design Advisory Team and active community participation
  • Historic preservation


  • 2014 31st Annual Reconstruction Gold Award, Presented by Building Design + Construction
  • 2014 Historic Preservation Award for Outstanding Restoration, Presented by the City of Boulder’s Landmarks Board
  • 2014 Preservation Award, Presented by Historic Boulder Preservation Action
  • 2014 EIC - 1st Place Award in the Historical Restoration/Renovation Category, Presented by ABC Colorado
  • 2014 1st Place - Renovation/Restoration Award, Presented by ENR Mountain States
  • Allied Design Professional Honor Award, Presented by AIA Denver
  • 2013 Summit Design Award for Renovation, Presented by the Council of Educational Planners International, Rocky Mountain Chapter