Skip Main Links
Classroom interior mixed-purpose room with vaulted ceilings, colorful beams, brightly colored walls, natural daylight, children seated in modern ergonomic chairs
Storm Lake Early Elementary School

Designed for the Future


Storm Lake Community School District

Project Location

Storm Lake, IA




Pre-K – First Grade

Drawing inspiration from nature reminiscent of endless days spent during summer camp, outdoor adventures are calling at Storm Lake Early Elementary School. Unbounded adventure is always just around the corner for the littlest of learners in this school. A call to energize, inspire, and ignite young minds into a lifelong love of learning is the primary design focus, prompting non- traditional learning spaces to emerge bursting with energy and enthusiasm. From the moment students are greeted at the campground to when they hike to their learning neighborhoods, our design immerses learners in a world of color and pattern.

Collaborative, hands-on learning spaces, which didn’t exist within the district prior to this school, are shifting the community’s mindset to new and exciting learning opportunities. Grade-level neighborhoods flank adaptable discovery areas that allow students to express their creativity while also fostering friendships. Mobile furniture, activated seating, and furniture choice support highly flexible spaces and inclusive learning modalities for all in this active and rapidly growing age group.

Beacon spaces, with their soaring ceilings, abundant natural light, connection to outdoors, and spirited murals, spark an interest and inspire the most eager of young minds to dream big.

Designed for the Future

Storm Lake Early Elementary School is the embodiment of the intentional criteria established by key stakeholder groups and our planning and design team. The design is clean, methodical, fun, and child centric. It offers a variety of spatial types to meet the changing needs and wants of students. It’s a school that pushes the needle to future-facing education for the community and all kids.


Discovery & Exploration

During the visioning phase, stakeholders voiced strong support for more specialized learning opportunities. This vision comes to life in the flexible and adaptable spaces found throughout the building. Expansive spaces such as the commons and gymnasium cater to large crowds, while breakout spaces outside classrooms are perfect for smaller groups. Grade-level classroom neighborhoods are organized around a flexible discovery area that provides additional educational space for students. These open, technology-filled discovery areas take on a unique and identifiable character for each neighborhood.

STEM Curriculum

Little Scientists

Adjacent to the media center are three garage doors that open to a STEM lab, a space that inspires and instills the confidence students need to experiment and fail in order to learn. For these students, this is the first introduction to science and other STEM curriculum. The hands-on lab allows young learners to explore and ‘see’ themselves as a scientist, a potential career that could have seemed out of reach for some students in previous years.

A colorful science lab is a hub of activity as kids work together to conduct experiments and discover new things.
Natural Elements

Nod to Nature

The spatial layout of the building, the visual connection to the outdoors, and the materials, textures, and colors reinforce natural exploration. Our design abstracts natural elements into formal elements at the building, leveraging local components of lake, dock, lighthouse, and campfire. The movement of metal panel and brick patterning on the building showcase water, while the front entry with columns and materiality represent the dock. Clerestory elements create the lighthouse and outdoor learning spaces represent the campfire.

Community Driven

Pivoting the Plan

Following an unsuccessful bond referendum in 2018, community members called for a change in the plan. They weighed options to determine the best path forward, which is a phased approach to deliver an early elementary school (rather than a dedicated early childhood center) that would eventually serve students in Pre-K to first grade. This option allows the community to fund smaller sections of the facility over a longer time frame, responsibly managing the incremental tax increase ask of community members.

Contact Us

Contact Us

  • Ready for the latest updates, delivered right to your inbox? By checking Subscribe, you agree to receive DLR Group’s weekly newsletter.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.