JAA is currently working on a new elementary school project for Albuquerque Public Schools. The scope is a complete remodel of the existing Arroyo Del Oso Elementary School facilities as well as the adjacent APS owned park. So as to ensure that a quality learning environment is maintained throughout construction, the new school building will be built in place of the existing park, allowing both construction and the curriculum to proceed uninterrupted. Once the new facility is complete and occupied, demolition will begin on the old buildings and a new park will be constructed in their place.

The conceptual basis of the building’s design was inspired by the symbol of Arroyo Del Oso Elementary: the Zuni Bear, or Heartline Bear, which represents the transition of passions into wisdom in Zuni Culture. We were introduced to the symbol when the school’s principal showed us a traditional art piece, praising the craftsperson’s ability to evoke the New Mexico Sunset through color and material. Much Native American jewelry, especially that of the tribes of the southwest, is a composition of turquoise, coral, mother of pearl, jet, and silver. In these compositions, turquoise is used to represent Father Sky and the coral is used to represent Mother Earth. While the colors stood out to us conceptually, we also became interested in the notion of “inlay” used in southwest jewelry, a technique where stones are worked and then fit together, sometimes side by side, called stone-to-stone, or with silver channels in between, known as channel inlay. We began to experiment with standing seam metal facade systems, using the seams between the metal panels to achieve the effect of inlay between stones, and to define a space for a composition of color, finishes, and fenestration to take place.