Built in 1963, Walter Douglas Elementary School was the third elementary school built in the Flowing Wells School District. After more than five decades of utilization by students, teachers and the community, the school is in need of an upgrade. Walter Douglas is undergoing significant renovations and a new building is being constructed to house most of the classrooms. The original building architecture utilized thin-shell concrete roofs in a circular classroom pod. The unique roofs were designed by architect John A. Shaver who created a dramatically fluted (like a clamshell) design for structural stability. The classrooms were built to be open to each other and newspaper stories at the opening celebrated the idea of team teaching with classrooms able to hold 150 students. Over the years, permanent interior walls were built to reflect more traditional classrooms but the roofs remained the same. The Flowing Wells District is committed to maintaining this rich history and two roofs will remain and be incorporated in the redesign of the campus. Community members driving down Flowing Wells Road will still see the roofs prominently displayed at each entry point of the campus.
Opening in 2020, the new design will create a school image that excites both current and future students, be a source of pride for the neighborhood and community, and link the past to the present. The school’s namesake, Walter Douglas, was a pilot and had strong ties to the aviation community. Some may even remember the Gilpin Airlines operating at Prince and Romero Road through the 1950s. To celebrate Walter Douglas, the school is embedding the history and future of flight in both the new design and the school curriculum. The new 40,000 square foot, two-story classroom building will provide maker spaces, a media center, and a computer lab along with twenty-four (24) new classrooms. The new school design will support FWUSD’s flight-based curriculum both functionally and aesthetically. The new building elements will be reminiscent of aircraft construction by featuring a metal exterior. The school will feature themed pathways like the “Flight of the Bumblebee Trail”, a “launching pad” that will provide a space for flight-related experiments and lessons, a flight deck balcony, jet liner windows that can be closed with a sliding shade, and a cock pit alcove that offers amazing views of the Catalina Mountains. The building is designed to provide students an understanding of what it’s really like to fly!
The new design also includes renovations to create a cafeteria for students, build a kitchen to serve 600 students, and provide upgrades for all utilities. Importantly, a parking lot and new student drop off zone will be created to bring all traffic onto the campus and out of the neighborhoods. These improvements remove the current drop off zone on Mojave Road and widen existing parking spaces to increase ease of access.
Flowing Wells School District is grateful to our community for supporting our recent bond election, allowing us to bring this exciting new building to the Douglas campus while honoring and preserving the school’s unique history.