media center

Katherine Johnson Technology Magnet Academy

DeSoto, Texas
Student Engagement Defines Design

With the creation of Katherine Johnson Technology Magnet Academy, DeSoto ISD sought to offer its youngest students access to technology-based educational opportunities. The dynamic facility delivers a revolutionary approach to elementary education and is proactively setting children up for success in fast-growing industries.

Seeking to expose young students to science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and outdoor learning, we explored how the design of the building could enhance this mission. Our team developed a hyper-adaptable space with each grade level having access to its own collaboration area and adjacent outdoor lab. Nestled in the heart of the school is a vibrant two-story media center where students can engage in project-based scenarios while enjoying sweeping views of the surrounding landscape. Colorful nooks and tutor rooms for quiet study punctuate open collaboration areas. Moments of student engagement can be found throughout the school, from the digital ticker at the front entry, to the graphic learning wall and tech-inspired color palette that also serves as wayfinding throughout the interior.

Media center view from second level
Surrounded by outdoor learning areas, the media center forms the heart of the school, encouraging engagement and flexible learning.
The media center experience was designed to spark curiosity by blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor space.
Robotics classroom
Robotics classroom located just over the entryway to the school.
Teachers have the flexibility to alter the content tied to the QR codes at any time to accommodate age ranges and subject matter.
Future-Ready Learning.

Katherine Johnson Technology Magnet Academy (KJTMA) provides future-ready learning opportunities based on programs such as robotics, coding, science, digital art and music. To support the curriculum and provide students a strong foundation for tomorrow’s jobs, the design team grouped these STEM-focused programs together at the front of the school. Dynamic QR codes embedded in the wall graphics enable students to access supplementary information through their school-issued iPads.

Student Focused. Technology Driven.

KJTMA was purposefully designed to encourage moments of student engagement across every square inch.

Media Center nooks with students playing
Students are encouraged to interact with the building in a number of ways.
Colorful niches in the media center allow students to climb and play within the walls.
tutor rooms with students
KJMTA features a variety of learning spaces for full class groups, small groups, and individual exploration.
Tutor rooms within the media center provide a space for one-on-one or small group learning.
collaboration area with students
Classroom corridors surround the media center and form a protective shell around this organic experience.
Operable acoustic glass partitions in the lower-level collaboration spaces provide added flexibility and privacy for users as needed.
exterior at dusk
Designed with student collaboration in mind, Perkins&Will worked with DeSoto ISD to challenge the typical elementary school model.
This STEM and technology-focused elementary school serves as a way to engage and inspire a younger generation.
"This elementary school is the first of its kind in our district and we are thankful to be working with such a diligent and thoughtful design team. Their multi-step design charrette process involved students, staff, administration and community members."

– Dr. Gabrielle Lemonier, Former Associate Superintendent

wall graphic
Located at the entry, a two-story wall graphic celebrates the school's namesake.
The graphic features life lessons and quotes from Katherine Johnson.
outdoor learning with students
Evidence shows that hands-on learning experiences in nature can improve test scores and attendance.
Transparency of the outdoor learning spaces allows for daylighting throughout the building footprint.
Providing technology-focused academic learning opportunities.

KJTMA was named in celebration of Katherine Johnson, one of the first African-American mathematicians employed by NASA and the subject of the 2016 film “Hidden Figures”.  The interactive wall graphics, designed to offer moments that educate and inspire across multiple disciplines and age groups, features the space-travel theme throughout the building, with each graphic connecting content to nearby programmatic offerings.

binary code pattern on exterior of building
A binary code pattern is applied on the exterior fenestration of the building.
This area playfully references robotics and coding principles while facilitating student visibility and interaction.
wall graphic & colorful floor pattern in corridor
Colors inspired by wearable technology bring a sense of identity to each grade level.
The building’s wayfinding reinforces grade level identity with a creative floor design inspired by circuit boards and connections.
Created in collaboration with DeSoto ISD, this marketing video was used to generate excitement within the community.

Project Team

Vandana Nayak