The Alta Vista School near Lamar, Colorado, is a charter school within the Prowers RE-2 School District.  Upon beginning the master plan, the school was housed in an historic brick structure and three additional modular classroom trailers located around the site perimeter. Alta Vista Charter received a Colorado B.E.S.T. grant to fund an expansion program for the school.

The existing brick building was constructed in 1917 and was listed on the Colorado State Register of Historic Places on June 9, 1999 The building had three classrooms, an auditorium/lunch room, a small multi-purpose room, library and administrative area.  There was no provision for ADA accessibility for the disabled, as the floors were connected by neither an elevator nor a ramp. 

It was our team’s recommendation to rehabilitate the historical structure and build an 20,000 square foot addition to the north.  The proposed rehabilitated building would house four classrooms, with several smaller breakout spaces, and renovated restrooms. The addition has a new entry and administrative area, new library and computer lab, a new gymnasium, stage, and new classrooms. 

This project is the first CO-CHPS Verified leader project in the nation.



The Design Advisory Group that was formed worked diligently the SLATERPAULL / RB+B Architects team and the APS Facilities to review the existing Education Specification and make modification recommendations.

The replacement school was constructed on the campus’s existing play fields, located just north of the old school. Once the construction of the new school was complete, the building was occupied, allowing for the demolition of the existing school and the construction of new play fields.

The DAG chose to take the library space and distribute the square footage into the classroom pods so that the resources were nearer to the students.

This project is on target to be LEED for Schools Silver Rating.


Master Plan, Renovation and Addition


This program has been a successful and unique option program in the public school district for the last 35 years. For the first time, a building has been designed specifically for their unique needs.

Jefferson County Open School is a public alternative school available to students kindergarten through 12th grades, serving children throughout Jefferson County and surrounding Denver communities.

The first phase was an analysis of the educational program and its relationship to the current building. The district realized the program differed from that of its other traditional schools, but did not understand how truly unique it was until this exercise was complete. 

The project which became a partial replacement of the existing facility sandwiched between the historic gymnasium and the old Lakewood High School building.

The new building sits between the two remaining historic buildings and architecturally strives to respect the character of those buildings. The orthogonal geometry is rotated 45 degrees creating dynamic forms that rise above a simple masonry base.



The new day-lit entry forms a focal point, welcoming the students and community as the “gateway to learning.” The design team of SLATERPAULL embraced the many design challenges of envisioning a school for the 21st century while continuing to foster a sense of secure community for students. Design goals of providing gathering spaces and creating visual connection to the exterior are enhanced by daylighting featured throughout the new exploratory studios, library, and renovated commons.  

The addition also includes a commons space for the students, a performance auditorium, and administrative offices. The renovation includes a full service kitchen, a special education suite, and technology upgrades. Site improvements include a new entry plaza and other outdoor learning patios. A new bus loop provides a safer drop off area.



This new school design is flexible as either a 926-student configuration or the option of two schools of 466 within one building. It was developed as a joint use site with a high school and potential uses of a community college, recreation center, and maintenance facility.

The P-8 was designed by SLATERPAULL/RB+B Architects with two equal, but separate, two story academic wings. Each wing houses 8 core curriculum classrooms per floor. This allows the school to be organized in a variety of ways.  In a traditional model where grades are located adjacent to each other, two grades of four classes each can be located together. For a school within a school model, each floor could house one class each for grades 1 through 8. Vista Peak opened its doors organized under the traditional model. All of the special classrooms are located in the core, equidistant from each wing. The gymnasium and cafeteria are designed to be accessed before and after school hours without allowing access to the rest of the school.

The design teams developed a statement for the overall campus design. The site shall maintain a prairie feeling with informal arrangement of buildings and pedestrian paths. As in nature, the landscaping, trees and rocks are to be grouped to form vertical nodes within the site. The buildings will be located at the terminus of the pedestrian paths further emphasizing the motion of vertical nodes. Courtyards and entries shall have a pedestrian scale welcoming the occupants to the building. Simple building forms are to include horizontal banding with curving forms and vertical nodes or markers at the entry points. Primary building materials may include masonry, wood, and metal in natural colors such as browns, beiges and reds. Large expanses of glass shall bring nature and daylight into the building with larger overhangs or shading devices to protect occupants.