Playing It Up by VAL GLITSCH, FAIA
Christ Lutheran Day School, Brenham
Christ Lutheran Church
Thomas Hayne Upchurch, AIA; Elizabeth M. Price,
Assoc. AIA; Dawson Skow, Assoc. AIA contractor consultants
Collier Construction Architectural Engineers Collaborative (structural);
Tom Green and Company Engineers, Inc. (MEP); O’Malley Engineers, LLP (civil) photographer
Hester + Hardaway
(this page) Colorful building components evoke the playful activities that await inside. (opposite page) As illustrated by the lunch room, the day school features bright interiors with large windows in classrooms and public spaces.
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a r c h i t e c t
THE recently completed Day School for Christ Lutheran Church in Brenham puts a new face on school design for this small city Northwest of Houston. Previously occupying a small house and shared weekday use of a rather bleak set of Sunday School rooms, 125 children (with their 24 teachers) now occupy a building Upchurch Architects has designed just for them. The church’s stated mission in the community always has been to provide low-cost/ high quality education for young children. To this purpose, the church originally hired Upchurch Architects to conduct a feasibility study for a classroom addition to the original structure. However, several schematic designs later, the architects recommended an unexpected approach to the congregation: a separate building of its own identity, located at the far west end of the church’s property. So, rather than “attach + blend,” Upchurch Architects pushed for the construction of a new building to begin a campus plan for the 7.5-acre property. Sited at the bottom of an east/west slope and aligning a newly created greenbelt (actually a drainage swale), the 12,700-sq. ft. building now gathers all the site’s attention, as the new multicolored village of forms easily upstages the drab-toned brick of the original church. Approaching the site daily, each child can review the school layout in its entirety as they spiral along a counter-clockwise path from the main road all the way through the drop-off loop to the school’s “little red schoolhouse” entrance. Projecting the interior on the exterior was the architect’s primary design strategy. “We wanted the children to be able to identify their classrooms upon arrival,” states principal Thomas Hayne Upchurch, AIA. The linear layout, forms, colors, and fenestration patterns all support this goal.
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