Construction has begun on the newest elementary school in Austin, and most of the work is indoors. The new school is an adaptive reuse of an empty commercial building, an innovative solution for the Austin Independent School District. For the past year, Heimsath Architects, in joint venture with Architecture Plus, has been working on the conversion of an old manufacturing facility as the best location for a new school to relieve crowding in surrounding facilities.
When completed, the school will be the largest elementary in AISD. The yet unnamed campus will have classrooms on two floors, a new gym and new cafetorium all within the walls of the existing structure. A portion of the expansive roof will be left in place as a shade cover for an outdoor play area.
The adaptive reuse school presents many green building advantages. Compared to a total demolition, the amount of material waste on the site has been minimal. The program has been designed with skylights in the tall ceilings that will bring natural light into every instructional space. A major investment in new roof-top solar panels will generate a substantial percentage of the school’s energy needs. With these, and other innovative green building elements, the District is applying for a LEED gold certification.
The architects have been working closely with the District, and with Flintco Construction. One of our local television reporters recently toured the construction site and produced a fine report on the early progress of turning a warehouse into a school.
Too often people assume that demolition is the only answer when you have an older building. Though this project didn't include a historic property, many of the same issues confront adaptive re-use projects. We confront some of the major myths that perpetuate the idea that working with an older building isn't as good as new construction. Download this great resource now.