Vista Grande Elementary was designed for 600 students, grades K–5th. The school includes 22 classrooms, a gymnasium/ multi-purpose room, a library/media center, a music room, cafeteria and kitchen, play grounds and an athletic field.
The site has a significant slope and offers spectacular views of the Sandia Mountains and Rio Grande Valley. The design took advantage of slope to create classroom neighborhoods that step down the hill. This approach allows for maintaining the views and, at the same time, enhances the visibility of the school grounds from the administrative area.
The sloping site and stepped design provided opportunities to design the building utilizing geometric shapes accented with colors. In this way, the building itself becomes a teaching device. Each classroom neighborhood or pod has its own interaction zone where children can gather or for group activities.