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The Building of America

Walnut Bend Elementary School

Houston, Texas

Facts & Figures Owner: Houston Independent

Walnut Bend Elementary School

School District Type of Project: A new elementary school Size: 84,553 square feet Cost: $9.5 million (building and site); $12.9 (total project cost)








Construction Time: February

bond issue to rebuild and upgrade

2006 - August 2007

many facilities within the Houston

The Need: To replace a small,

Independent School District (ISD),

aging school The Challenge: Fulfilling all the

including Walnut Bend Elementary

school’s requirements while

School. The circa 1960 school sat

working around the existing site

on a five-acre site and was slated


for renovation. However, once VLK Architects, Inc. conducted the initial assessment, the company proposed to replace the school altogether. The original school building was not only aging, it was greatly in need of more space. The number of students had outgrown the facility’s capacity — to the point where more classes were being held in portable buildings than in the original structure. There was also no onsite parking or designated drop-off zones for students.

Gold Medal Award-winning Team Members Heery International, Inc. Program Manager VLK Architects, Inc. Architect Drymalla Construction Company, Ltd. General Contractor Jarreau & Associates, Inc. Landscape Architect Landtech Consultants, Inc. Civil Engineer

In order to achieve the building program for a 750-student school serving pre-kindergarten through fifth grade on the existing site, VLK responded with a two-story design comprised of a compact floor plan that is zoned to clearly define and separate academic areas from the public areas shared by the community, such as the multipurpose room and the cafetorium. The location of the cafetorium and the library allow Photo courtesy of Chad M. Davis, AIA

for after-hours community usage

texas edition

while the rest of the school remains

Burroughs, general manager — con-

natural lighting. In addition, the

secure. Each grade level has its

struction services for Houston ISD, is

team selected low-emitting adhe-

own neighborhood while shar-

that during its design, the building

sives, sealants, carpets and paints for

ing a multi-instructional flex space

was selected to be a case study for

the project, and durable finishes are

for either multiple small-group

utilizing Leadership in Energy and

used throughout high-traffic areas

instruction or larger team instruc-

Environmental Design (LEED®) on

of the school, reducing mainte-

tion. “The design complements the

the district’s future school projects,

nance costs. The school is currently

mission of the facility/owner by

enabling the school to be used

pending LEED® certification.

meeting and exceeding the educa-

as a teaching tool for students to

Furthermore, the integration of

tion specifications of Houston ISD,”

learn about the benefits of sus-

environmental practices that stress

said Kenneth Hutchens, principal

tainability. According to Burroughs,

recycling was innovative, accord-

for VLK.

the school is very energy efficient

ing to Chuck Cordes, project man-

The most important feature of

— from its building envelope

ager for Drymalla Construction

the new facility, according to Willie

to its HVAC system to its use of





gold medal award winner

Photo courtesy of Chad M. Davis, AIA

general contractor. Recycled mate-

shade for the building and to reduce

gation systems. “The landscape

we are teaching the young students

rials were an integral part of the

the amount of new landscaping

design, which radiates out from

and teachers that conservation and

school’s design, and recycle bins

required. Jarreau & Associates, Inc.,

the building, is part of the green

sustainability are the norm.”

were installed in the school to be

the project’s landscape architect,

look and feel,” said Jo Ann Jarreau,

According to Hutchens, the team

used by staff and students.

used native, drought-tolerant plants

ASLA, LEED AP, president of Jarreau

incorporated some of the original

A majority of the existing trees on

for the remainder of the landscap-

& Associates. “When that look is

school’s history and heritage into

the site were preserved to provide

ing, eliminating the need for irri-

attached to an educational facility,

the new building’s design. Bricks continued on page 5

Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Lyon

gold medal award winner

texas edition

The Owner’s Perspective with Willie Burroughs, General Manager — Construction Services, Houston Independent School District Q: What is the most unique or important feature of the facility (or of the design/construction process)? WB: The school is also used as a tool teaching the kids about the benefits of sustainable design, sustainable design elements in their school and the benefit on man and nature and the built environment. This building is designed to provide students and teachers with assorted teaching tools and classroom amenities that encourage learning. Since trees play an integral role in the design, they were specially constructed and placed inside the building as a means of bringing nature within. The terrazzo floor is used as a teaching tool and contains facts, poems, maps and a skeleton of an eagle, the school’s mascot. Diverse technology and flexible teaching spaces inspire an unlimited arrangement of center-based learning. As a result of the design committee meetings, several features from the existing site were designed into the new site, including an area for a pond for aquatic life studies and a nature center, which were then installed by the school’s PTO. The nature center provides an additional space and opportunity for students to learn about nature.

Q: What were the greatest challenges encountered on this project? How, specifically, were they overcome? WB: The final design — a two-story, 84,553-square-foot, compact design — preserves the site and the mature pine, oak and sycamore trees, which occupy the site. A majority of the existing trees on the site were preserved to provide shade for the building and to reduce the amount of new landscaping. Site preservation was a key concern for the campus-based design committee. Part of the site lay in a drainage bayou and part of which was occupied by a sewer easement. The design response of a two-story building allowed for maximum [retention] of green space resulting in a restored/protected site area of 61.9 percent of the original site.

Q: Were there any innovative strategies involving improved quality, costeffectiveness or cost reductions? WB: Walnut Bend’s design is 15 percent more efficient than the baseline building. This energy efficiency was accomplished through a more efficient building envelope, lighting and HVAC systems, including appropriately sizing…this system, all of which reduce energy demand and energy usage. As part of the selection process for interior materials and finishes, low-emitting adhesives, sealants, carpet system and paint system were selected, which meet the district’s requirements for materials and fulfilled the requirements of LEED®. Recycled materials were an integral part of the school’s design; in fact, bricks from the original Walnut Bend were salvaged and used on the courtyard wall and plan “datum” wall. Salvaged brick from the existing school was used to build a low wall around the entry plaza and create an accent brick in the centralized masonry wall. Durable finishes, such as terrazzo, burnished concrete masonry units, and impactresistant sheetrock are used throughout high-traffic areas of the school, reducing maintenance costs. Post-consumer recycled materials equal 10.83 percent while post-industrial recycled materials account for 5.86 percent. Post-consumer and half of the postindustrial recycled materials account for 13.76 percent of recycled materials in the project. Local and regional materials were an emphasis of the design team during selection of materials to be used on Walnut Bend. Regionally manufactured products equaled 21.52 percent as a percent of total construction costs, while regionally extracted materials accounted for 33.72 percent. These materials included masonry, cement, structural steel, gypsum board and terrazzo flooring.

Photo courtesy of Marcy Spears, Communications Services, HISD

4400 W. 18th St. Houston, TX 77092 713-556-6005

continued from page 3

from the original building were sal-

ed by information on eagles, and

fic from the busy street in front of

plan and details for paving, drain-

vaged and used inside and outside

teachers can take the kids out into

the school and the neighborhood

age and grading for the proposed

the new school. The original theater

the halls to do research on eagles.

behind the school. The configura-

parking areas. “We conducted site

stage’s wood flooring was used in

To complement the nest feeling

tion also supports a one-way drive

visits during construction to visu-

the platform steps of the new mul-

and bring nature within, “trees”

with separate drop-off and pick-

ally inspect the implementation

tipurpose room.

made of stucco and wire mesh were

up areas for students and parking

of equipment, such as pipes and

used as column coverings in areas

that loops in and through the site.

utilities,” said Thomas Langford, PE,

throughout the building.

“To incorporate the building into the curriculum, we developed a

Additionally, the site configuration

senior project manager, and Cathy

theme for the building of the ‘Eagle’s

Another important and innova-

provides areas for three distinc-

D’Arche, CPSM, marketing director

Nest’ using the school’s mascot

tive design aspect of the new build-

tive age-appropriate playgrounds

for Landtech Consultants. “Since all

[an eagle],” said Hutchens. Poems,

ing is that it allows for placement

nestled around the building and

pipes and utilities were excavated

quotes, facts, maps of native nest-

of an internal site drive and on-site

the site.

and removed from the first school

ing ranges and an eagle’s nest are

parking. The loop drive directs all

Landtech Consultants, Inc. com-

and completely replaced for the

embedded in the school’s flooring.

drop-off traffic and parking into

pleted the civil design of the site,

new school, it was imperative our

Teachers and children are surround-

the site, thereby removing the traf-

including preparing an engineering

engineers ensured all construction continued on page 9

Photo courtesy of Chad M. Davis, AIA

gold medal award winner

texas edition

The Architect’s Perspective with Kenneth Hutchens, Principal, VLK Architects, Inc. Q: Describe the project in relative detail, incorporating what you think makes the project unique or sets it apart. How does the design complement the overall mission of the facility/owner? KH: The replacement school occupies the site of the former school, which contains five acres of land and features mature pine, oak and sycamore trees, some of which exceed 40 feet in height. To achieve the building program for a 750-student school serving grades pre-K through fifth and the goals of the site-based design committee, VLK responded with a twostory design achieving a compact floor plan that preserves the existing trees and allows placement of an internal site drive that provides ample parking and vehicle queuing, taking this traffic off the neighborhood streets. In addition, three age-/grade-appropriate playgrounds are nestled around the building and site. The compact floor plan is zoned to clearly define and separate academic areas from the public areas shared with the community such as the multipurpose room and cafeteria. A connecting corridor and organizing wall element respond to the geometry of the site, which creates an easy transition into the building and connects the interior zones of the building for easy centralized circulation. The scale of the building is broken down into various height masses, reflecting the neighborhood massing of singlefamily homes, townhouses and office buildings. During design, HISD elected to add LEED® to the project as a case study for the district. The design complements the mission of the facility/owner by meeting and exceeding the education specifications of Houston ISD. Each grade level has their own neighborhood while sharing a multi-instructional flex space for either multiple small group instruction or larger team instruction. These neighborhoods also facilitate separating younger and older grade levels from each other. Functions such as library and cafetorium were located to allow after-school access for community groups or school activities while providing security to other parts of the building. HISD material standards are used throughout the finishes of the building.

Photo courtesy of Signature Studios

Q: What were some of the drivers behind the design? What design materials or concepts were used? KH: Some items driving the design were the desire by the site-based committee to reflect some of the feelings of the old school, which was a 1950s open-corridor plan with classrooms gathered around exterior courtyards, which featured mature trees and a desire to use the building as a teaching tool. The building plan provided the ability to keep the existing mature trees, which provides for a similar feeling of the previous campus in that the building is nestled into the existing landscape.… Q: What else would you like to mention that these questions have not addressed? KH: LEED® was added to the project as a case study by Houston ISD for determining its viability for future projects. In working with Houston ISD we determined that [a] practical approach would be required to facilitate maintenance by HISD as they did not want any special training for their maintenance people in order to service this building. LEED® components included recycling construction waste, reducing heat islands, specifying materials made from recycled materials, using materials from local and regional resources, native landscaping, low-odor materials, etc.

7915 F.M. 1960 West, Ste. 214 Houston, TX 77070 281-671-2300

Founded by Jo Ann Jarreau, ASLA, LEED AP, in 1999, Jarreau & Associates, Inc. is a full-service firm committed to sustainable and “green” landscape design. Jarreau & Associates, Inc. offers a multitude of services, including site and master planning; cost estimates and budgeting; surveying and site analysis; and irrigation, grading and drainage design. The firm’s expertise, however, is in creating Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®)­ landscape designs for educational campuses, state and local institutions, and multi-location corporate sites. ­­­­­­

Creating sustainable landscapes

With 25 years of experience in creating beautiful and efficient landscapes, founder Jo Ann Jarreau offers a unique perspective on landscape design with an emphasis on creating holistic outdoor spaces that engage both nature and the built environment. “As the need to reduce our environmental impact has grown, so has our commitment to educating a wide audience about sustainable landscaping practices,” she says. According to Jarreau, “green” building is where landscape architecture and all building practices are heading. And her firm is on the leading edge of this push for sustainability in the design and construction industry. For one, Jarreau & Associates, Inc. works with its clients to maximize the services their landscapes can provide for them, such as climate regulation, clean air and water, and improved quality of life. In addition, Jarreau often gives educational talks to architects, contractors, corporate decision-makers and the general public regarding economic, environmental and health benefits of creating sustainable sites. For those clients looking to incorporate sustainability into their project, especially those working toward LEED® certification, Jarreau & Associates, Inc. can analyze the project, looking for likely ways to obtain up to 10 LEED® points. Oftentimes these credits are less expensive to earn than other building credits. Furthermore, Jarreau herself works closely with each client to ensure the design is tailored to the project, and she brings years of experience working with licensing bodies, building departments and other governmental approval groups.

“Prime time” relationships Jarreau & Associates, Inc. has established extensive relationships with subcontractors and prime contractors. “When we need information to help us better serve a client, we consult with these former and future team members, and make sure they know we are available to them for consulting in our areas of expertise,” says Jarreau. Building relationships is an important part of the company’s business, both in the industry and in the community. Recently, Jarreau & Associates, Inc. used its expertise to lend a helping hand to a community hit hard by Hurricane Rita. The firm was invited by general contractor The Trevino Group to offer its assistance in directing landscaping work on the rebuilding ­­of a fire station in Sabine Pass­­, Texas, as part of the ABC television show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. “One hundred hours after work began, beautiful palm trees and native grasses, not to mention the outdoor kitchen and large patio, set off a completely redone firehouse,” says Jarreau.

Sabine Pass Fire Station completed in 2006 for ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Walnut Bend Elementary School’s front entrance featuring sustainable landscape

Additionally, Jarreau & Associates, Inc. has an ongoing relationship with The Boeing Company, and has performed work at its four facilities in Clear Lake, Texas. Initially, the firm was hired to provide long-term landscape maintenance and enhancements. Through education presentations and proposals, Jarreau & Associates, Inc. has enrolled Boeing to raise its environmental standards and commit to sustainable landscaping practices. Recently, Jarreau & Associates, Inc. applied its expertise to the Walnut Bend Elementary School project, helping the facility earn two additional LEED® credits. The firm designed a sustainable landscape for the school, utilizing native plants that are drought resistant and remove the need for irrigation systems. “The landscape design, which radiates out from the building, is part of the ‘green’ look and feel,” she says. “When that look is attached to an educational facility, we are teaching the young students and teachers that conservation and sustainability are the norm.” Headquartered in Houston, Jarreau & Associates, Inc. performs work throughout the Gulf Coast region. To learn how you can benefit from the firm’s expertise for your current and future landscaping projects, contact Jo Ann Jarreau at 713-682-5299.­­­ — Corporate Profile

Jarreau & Associates, Inc. 3346 East T.C. Jester #B24 • Houston, TX 77018 • 713-682-5299

The General Contractor’s Perspective with Chuck Cordes, Project Manager, Drymalla Construction Company, Ltd. Q: What is the most unique or important feature of the facility (or of the design/construction process)? CC: A unique feature of the facility is the incorporation of the school’s history and heritage in its design aspects: salvaged brick veneer bands in new walls. Original theater stage wood flooring in the platform steps of the new multipurpose room. The school’s eagle mascot embedded into corridor resinous flooring as an anatomically described bird’s skeleton for educational purposes. The mapped counties shaping the state of Texas reflecting areas indigenous to the eagle’s nesting grounds embellished in the main corridor resinous floor, as viewed from the second-floor level. Natural daylight viewing in the majority of the exterior walls of classrooms, commons hallways and corridors accomplished through energy-efficient, low-light-emitting glazing of windows, storefront doors and glass curtain walls with sunscreen protection allowing nature’s exterior surroundings into the interior. Interior sculpted tree trunks near main entry areas and the reading room of the library have natural earth-tone silhouetted leaf shapes suspended from the ceiling and embedded in resinous floors, common to hallways.

Q: What is the most innovative aspect of the project (or of the design/ construction process)? What could other owners learn from for their future projects? CC: An innovative concept to the project would be the integration of environmental practices that stress recycling, conservation and resource management to educate faculty, students and parents on waste management. The use of water and energy conservation is implemented by use of low-water-consumption plumbing fixtures and the elimination

Photo courtesy of Drymalla Construction Company, Ltd.

of landscape irrigation by planting materials indigenous to the area. The installation of recycle bins to be used and practiced by faculty, maintenance and students. Graphics displays reflect information concerning wind and solar-generated power sources and alternative fuels for the environment as an educational tool.

Q: How did you work with the architect and owner to save time and/ or money on the project? How was value engineering applied to your responsibility? CC: The “team” atmosphere had to be embraced by all parties from the onset of construction. The “team” maintained a collective spirit for the duration of construction and was composed of the project and managing architect, the owner and its representatives, engineers, consultants, the general contractor [and] its project manager, superintendent, subcontractors, suppliers and manufacturers. This cohesive party constantly and diligently addressed issues for resolution through standard construction protocol relating to request for information, change proposal pricing issues, value engineering for cost savings, submittal reviews and approvals, and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) compliance and commissioning criteria.

608 Harbert St. Columbus, TX 78934 979-732-5731

continued from page 9

materials were compliant with the

the boundary of the site and not

new civil design specifications and

on the street as with the previous

all materials were installed properly

school, while maintaining as many

to comply with LEED and sustain-

of the existing mature trees on the

ability requirements.”

site as possible, a smaller building


The site itself presented the greatest challenge for the project,

footprint was necessary, resulting in the school’s two-story design.

according to both Hutchens and

In the end, the project was highly

Burroughs. The site has a drain-

successful due to experienced team

age bayou as well as electrical and

members who were able to col-

sanitary sewer easements running

laborate and think outside the box.

through it, which left approximate-

Burroughs said, “All parties, includ-

ly 4.5 acres of buildable area for

ing the existing school staff and

the project. In order to meet the

community participants, worked

requirement that all the parking and

well together.” n

student drop-off/pick-up be within

— Stacey Nathanson Photo courtesy of Chad M. Davis, AIA

Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Lyon

gold medal award winner

texas edition

Photo courtesy of Chad M. Davis, AIA


texas edition

gold medal award winner

Landtech Consultants, Inc. A Measure of Excellence Landtech Consultants, Inc. is a responsive and reliable civil engineering and land surveying company. Performing its services throughout the states of Texas, New Mexico and Louisiana, the company’s consistency in employing experts with exceptional service and attention to detail enables Landtech to be an integrated team member and partner. In early 1985, Paul Kwan and Tom Staudt had a vision to start a small civil engineering and land surveying firm. The two men opened shop in a small space with a truckload of used furniture and a goal to provide “quality and service in a timely manner.” Kwan served as sole drafter and surveyor, while Staudt served as party chief and engineer. The men soon landed their first project — for which they were never paid. Remaining optimistic, they eventually landed their first paying projects and used the revenue to purchase the company’s first survey vehicle and computer. Eight months after opening the doors to Landtech, Kwan and Staudt hired their first two employees, who are still employed by the firm today. The big breakthroughs came two years later when they landed a contract to survey more than 200 7-Eleven stores and the design of the Maxey Road and Maricopa pump stations for the City of Houston. Today, Landtech has offices in Houston and El Paso, Texas. Landtech Consultants, Inc. provides well-rounded land surveying and civil engineering services. The company’s civil engineering experiences include a wealth of transportation, site development, traffic, utility and drainage projects. The importance of understanding the scope and tasks necessary to provide effective project management for complete design development is stressed with each project. To that end, Landtech performs in-depth research to assess a project’s requirements and develops a plan that incorporates the need for future growth

Main Office 2525 N. Loop W, Ste. 300 Houston, TX 77008 713-861-7068 fax: 713-861-4131

while minimizing the impact to the environment and surrounding communities. “Our engineers are committed to creating the most aesthetically pleasing, environmentally compatible, and cost-effective design plans,” says Senior Project Manager Thomas Langford, PE. Landtech also offers comprehensive surveying experience and the latest in surveying technology to develop precise survey data. The company’s surveying technology includes GPS surveying, horizontal and vertical control for aerial mapping, right-of-way and route surveying, boundary surveying, and topographic surveying. By stressing the importance of developing longterm relationships with clientele, Landtech has fostered repeat business and affirmed its reputation as a responsive and efficient team member. Landtech’s clients consist of architects, developers, owners and other consultants as well as municipalities and county, state and federal agencies. “We consider each client a priority client, and strive to give exceptional service. We are committed to maintaining the project’s schedule and budget by providing consistent communication, optimizing design solutions, and developing constructable plans,” states Principal Engineer Thomas Staudt, PE. Landtech is unique because its principals are accessible and remain actively involved in all aspects of the business. By staying actively involved, the company’s principals have the authority to allocate internal personnel and firm resources, ensuring each project maintains the established schedule and scope. Because the company’s surveyors and engineers are in-house, they understand the level of data needed for design development and the importance of maintaining project schedules in order to meet critical design deadlines. Hiring smart and dedicated employees who believe in the company’s vision, developing responsible and approachable relationships with clients, and providing a variety of services has made Landtech Consultants, Inc. a leader in the land surveying and civil engineering business. — Corporate Profile

El Paso Office 200 Bartlett Dr., Ste. 103 El Paso, TX 79913 915-833-5999 fax: 915-833-5999

24445 Northwestern Hwy. Ste. 218 • Southfield, MI 48075 • 248-945-4700 • fax: 248-945-4701 •

Construction Communications Gold Medal Edition - Walnut Bend Elementary School  

Special Gold Medal Edition of the Real Estate and Construction Review features Texas' Walnut Bend Elementary School. The Gold Medal Building...

Construction Communications Gold Medal Edition - Walnut Bend Elementary School  

Special Gold Medal Edition of the Real Estate and Construction Review features Texas' Walnut Bend Elementary School. The Gold Medal Building...