Hollis + Miller Architects: Shea Ensors, Alison Luzenske, Kaden Beilman, Lauren Bailey, Morgan Gales, Ingrid Peterson, Ian Sullivan, Michael Patrick, and Daniel Cooper.

Learnscape is an outdoor learning environment designed entirely by our Emerging Professionals, then built and donated by Hollis + Miller Architect’s employees to a different Kansas City school district every year.


Learnscape at Sunflower Elementary encourages exploration and fosters environmentally minded students. The outdoor classroom blurs the lines between the learning areas and nature, providing a seamless connection between students and the natural environment. Preserving the natural landscape was important to the design team, and the emerging professionals consulted with experts in the community to select the appropriate foliage. Each grade level had a dedicated garden bed to tend to, allowing students to learn about the growth of plants and the cultivation of fresh fruits and vegetables. The design of Learnscape allows for learning opportunities in everyday items we take for granted, such as electricity. Solar panels are connected to outlets to provide power for smart devices. Solar energy is a concept that students read about in textbooks and are taught inside a classroom, but they can now experience it firsthand in an outdoor environment. Built-in project tables give students ample space to experiment with natural materials and get their hands dirty. A covered learning area provides solace from the sun and inspires teachers to think outside of the classroom. The roof promotes water preservation by harvesting rainwater to nurture the garden plants.

Learnscape promotes lifelong learning and supports community relationships. The design offers an opportunity for local businesses to provide resources to students, sharing their specialties and opening future career paths. Sunflower’s new outdoor learning environment supports learning outside of the school day and will promote an environmentally conscious community for years to come


Gail Kubik, Assoc. AIA, Finegold Alexander Architects, Salem, Massachusetts

Sandra Montalbo, Assoc. AIA, San Antonio, Texas

Todd Ray, FAIA, Page Southerland Page, Inc, Washington, D.C.

Image credits


Hollis + Miller Architects


Hollis + Miller Architects


Hollis + Miller Architects


Hollis + Miller Architects


Hollis + Miller Architects