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New East Lake Elementary School has modern, innovative design

Academic areas are grouped in neighborhoods and five classrooms surround a commons area in East Lake Elementary School. Students are shown in music class visiting with Principal Miles Haugen. Kara Hildreth / contributor 1 / 3
Teachers collaborated on the design of the new East Lake Elementary, where many Rosemount students attend. Large windows encircle the building and offer natural light and an open concept library is housed in the center of the school. Media Specialist Sue Syrstad is working in the school library that can be viewed from the second floor. Kara Hildreth / contributor 2 / 3
East Lake Elementary resembles an art gallery with high ceilings, bright colors and modern finishes. “The art room is kind of a signature of the building with glass on the lower and above and you can look down into the art classrooms,” said East Lake Principal Miles Haugen. Photo by Kara Hildreth / contributor 3 / 3

The new East Lake Elementary School is designed with the most modern finishes and design elements. Sunshine and natural light stream into large windows. The interior looks like an art gallery with many open concept learning spaces.

The design of the new building is a cross between an artful form with the innovative, collaborative learning spaces.

"What is special is that we are building a brand new community because there are kids coming from five different schools and we are connecting with each other," Principal Miles Haugen said.

East Lake's student body approaches 550 students from grades K-5. That includes about 105 students who make a home in Rosemount. The school is at Diamond Path and County Road 46 in Lakeville.

Haugen, 55, served on the original design committee made up of educators and administrators who began working on a school design concept in January 2016. Haugen was later hired to become the new school principal.

"We had great initial discussions on how it would look if we could design our own building and we put together pattern blocks on where the media center could be located and what the academic wings could look with the gyms and specialists" for art and music, Haugen said.

The architectural design team was led by Scott McQueen, who facilitated discussion alongside the firm of Wold Architects.

"They did great job because they have their eye, and they listened to us and they customized it from what we shared with them," Haugen said. "Each time, the architect took data from us and would go back and take software and share what we said."

The design team created seven or eight building design examples. Each one worked to incorporate the best ways to unify design with teaching and learning.

"I have a love for teaching and always want to connect with kids in school," Haugen said. "I just love being with kids and seeing them make good gains and it has been a treat to be 34 years in the business and I have love every year of it."

The need for East Lake arose in response to overcrowding at two other schools and the other schools are nearing capacity, Haugen said.

Parental feedback has been great.

"They are excited about having a neighborhood school and we have had them here for an open house and back-to-school nights where they can see the building first hand," Haugen said.

The academic classrooms are grouped in neighborhoods with pods or wings.

"Each neighborhood is typically a grade level walk that is secured with a door," Haugen said. With the windows and natural light design, teachers can see students working in the commons and monitor kids in the classrooms.

Parents will join their children for a celebration fundraiser and nature walk on Sept. 29 where they will walk around the lake at East Lake Regional Park, a mile away from the school.

Haugen shows framed seasonal nature photographs of East Lake Park taken by his wife that are on display in his office.

"The kids will go on a scavenger hunt and look for wildlife and there is more than you anticipate there with eagles, ducks and the occasional deer," he said.