February 10, 2017

Trends in Texas School Design

We've heard far too many stories in recent years about schools not being safe places or the best learning environments for our kids.

Issues affecting schools also include a need to reduce operating and maintenance costs while keeping construction costs under control.  Energy efficiency, safer building materials, storm protection, sound control and safety are all some of the important considerations when building a new school.

Worse is when nothing changes because a school thinks they can't afford to design and build better schools.

Schools also face a challenge in that they need buildings that will last a long time while keeping a tight budget.

Newer trends in school design have begun to change things, though it all centers on rethinking how a school is designed from the start.  A new school should start with an architectural firm who is experienced in designing schools.   

An experienced architectural firm has learned what works and what doesn’t when designing a school.  They also understand the unique needs of schools in Texas as well as the local building code requirements.

This experience extends from the initial design, to the budget constraints of a school, best construction practices and the long-term performance of the school.

Architects know that one of the most critical aspects is how well walls are designed and detailed in new school buildings.

Energy Efficiency

Considering how much annual operating costs make up of a school district’s budget, the push is on to make each school more even more sustainable. Higher levels of energy efficiency are now a top priority.

New materials and systems make it possible for schools to be more sustainable and energy efficient without necessarily adding to the construction costs or time. In fact, many new materials positively impact budgets and schedules.

Recent energy code changes now require continuous insulation to be installed to the exterior of the school.  Innovative architects are approaching this new requirement by considering new wall systems that were designed with continuous insulation as part of the wall and not an add-on that increases costs. 

Storm Protection

With far too many schools in Texas in harm's way of natural disasters, new schools are finding ways to protect the building, students and teachers.

Concrete can provide major structural support to hold up in the worst storm conditions.  While being strong, existing concrete wall solutions such as concrete block, tilt up walls and insulated concrete forms, all have other drawbacks. These drawbacks can include the need to add insulation which takes more time and adds cost.  A shortage of masons, can also cause construction delays.

Sound Control

As land costs rise and can be harder to find, more schools are being located close to highways and other sources of noise that can distract students.  Even schools that are not located next to highways want to reduce the outside sound levels. This usually means adding more layers of materials and adding costs in an effort to reduce exterior noise.

A New Wall For New Schools

The Bautex Wall System was built from the ground up with the needs of schools in mind. It is the first new wall system that has been designed in fifty years. Traditional wall systems now require more layers of products, more labor, added costs and construction time to meet the needs of new schools in Texas.  The Bautex system provides all of these for a new school and more, with a quickly installed and cost competitive system.

Less innovative architects and contractors may be more comfortable with older solutions.  School officials should recommend that new systems, like Bautex be considered.

To learn more about the Bautex wall system and schools, click here.

If you are planning to build a new school and are looking for an experienced architect, here is a directory of Texas-based architects with experience in designing schools.