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Tight Site by susan williamson project client St. Andrew’s Dell Hall Middle School, Austin St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church architect Susman Tisdale Gayle design team Jim Susman, AIA; Trenton Wann, AIA; Fred Peebles, AIA; Jeffrey Ervin; Heather Chasen; Ethan Glass, AIA; Christi Grider project manager consultants Herndon, Stauch & Associates MEJ & Associates (MEP); Architectural Engineers Collaborative (structural); Bury + Partners (civil); Land Design Partners (landscape) photographers 34 t e x a s Casey Dunn; Jeffrey Ervin a r c h i t e c t The new middle school building at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Austin represents one more step in a journey begun more than 15 years ago when school officials first collaborated with Austin architects Susman Tisdale Gayle. Over the years, STG has worked with the school to create a gracious campus composed of buildings set among large oaks and centered around what STG principal Jim Susman, AIA, calls “the community green”—the school’s athletic field. The school was founded in 1952 and occupied a single building on the banks of Shoal Creek just north of downtown for most of its first four decades. For many years, school officials had eyed a neighboring five-acre tract to the north, but had been unable to come to terms with the property owners. Fortunately for the school, the collapse of the local real estate market in the late 1980s made the acquisition feasible. With a desire to plan for careful growth, the school’s administration conducted a competition in 1990 with the goal of creating a master plan. Susman Tisdale Gale was ultimately selected, and over the subsequent 16 years STG designed structures that filled in the outlines of the plan it created for the campus. By the late 1990s the school asked STG to plan and design a second campus on an outlying site for a new upper school. By 2002, the central campus was bursting at the seams again. The existing middle school, built for 108 students, housed 140. While grades nine through twelve had moved to the new campus, questions remained about a direction for the middle school. Because of their long-standing relationship, STG was in a position to help St. Andrew’s answer those questions and then design a building to meet the school’s needs. “Jim knows the values of the school,” says Lucy Nazro, head of the school. After working on other St. Andrew’s projects, she adds, the architects knew which types of spaces worked best for the school. St. Andrew’s faculty, administration, parents, and students worked with the architects to answer fundamental questions about the middle school, such as where it would be located and what grades would be included. They decided that the middle school should stay on the original campus and include grades seven and eight. A one-year programming phase followed. With that preparation, 1 / 2 2 0 0 7

Texas Architect Jan/Feb 2007: Spaces for Learning

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