What makes The Rawson Saunders School different than any other school?
-Rawson Saunders is the only full-curriculum school in Central Texas exclusively for children with Dyslexia.
-Class sizes are small, ranging from 2-9 students, ensuring teacher-student engagement.
-A pedagogy based upon on research-driven, multisensory education.
-The integration of "Alternative Learning Therapy" or ALT.
In addition to spaces that facilitate the unique conditions listed above, the driving concept behind the design of the school is to create a campus that will enable and empower.
The concept of the campus was reinforced by the unique, narrow site, which gradually slopes about 20' from east to west. Diagrammatically, the site is broken into a public domain on the east and private domain on the west, divided by one major threshold before dissolving into a series of minor thresholds. The public realm, open to the neighborhood, can be referred to as a Dionysian landscape, in which the mature, existing trees were left to thrive amongst a variety of additional trees and vegetation to create a lush, free landscape.
The major threshold acts as more than an entry point and student drop off, it is accentuated by a central tower, the ennobling element, which houses the student library and the Rawson Saunders Institute. The campus driveway is designed as an allee, ushering your view towards the tower. The tower's grand staircase directly behind the glassy facade is backed by a wall cloaked with images of incredible men and women with dyslexia who serve as role models to the students. The tower hovers above a platform and a 125' long relfecting pool forcing one's perspective down the allee. The ALT spaces are organized in a linear sequence along the reflecting pool, each buried, emerging from the earth hovering slightly over the water. This moment, where the forced perspective of the allee merges the presence of the library tower, reflecting pool and ALT spaces, represents the school's identity, with the tower as the beacon.
Within the private realm lives the major portion of the program: the classrooms and the ALT spaces. These two program pieces exist within their own worlds nestled into the earth, mediated by a densely planted courtyard of Crepe Myrtles that provide an ethereal, dappled court which acts as the backdrop to the ALT spaces. A patterned brick wall with discrete entry points conceals the classrooms from the dappled court. The private realm, in contrast to the Dionysian-public realm, can be referred to as an Appolonian landscape appropriate to a learning environment.
The overall design intent is to reach beyond a standard school program in order to create a campus filled with moments of poetry and wonder while blurring the line between interior and exterior providing learning opportunities that extend beyond the classroom.