New Bridgeland elementary to feature sustainable architecture

Construction began last week on Elementary 53 in Bridgeland, which will be the first on-site elementary to serve the master-planned community, said Peter Houghton, vice president of Bridgeland.

The school's design utilizes energy efficient features such as water conservation measures and the use of recycled materials in the construction process, as approved by The Texas Collaborative for High Performance Schools, or TX-CHPS, program, said Steve Aloway, principal with VLK Architects.

VLK Architects has worked on several schools assessed by TX-CHPS—a national program which increases energy efficiency, saves on utility costs and promotes improved health for students, faculty and staff, Aloway said.

The design concept is the first two-story CFISD elementary school built in more than 40 years and will feature an abundance of windows, which will allow students to capture the views of Cypress Lake and the nearby Cypress Creek Nature Preserve, Houghton said.

"The site was carefully chosen by the district because of the scenery," he said. "It is also surrounded by widened roads on three sides and trails designed for pedestrian access."

According to VLK Architects, the elementary has a design enrollment capacity of 1,120 students and will be a prototype for the district.

"This [design] is unique to Cy-Fair and was carefully thought out in regard to vehicle parking and pedestrian access," Houghton said. "Early on, we completed a master-education plan to predict what kind of facilities would be needed to further assist our 'cradle-to-career' initiative in the community. This is a high water mark for Bridgeland to have the first of many on-site schools built over the next 25 years."

With more than 20,000 homes scheduled for construction in Bridgeland, the district's growth rate is higher than originally expected, said former CFISD associate superintendent Pam Wells at a board of trustees meeting last December. Plans for other on-site schools are in the works, including five additional elementary schools, two middle schools and a high school. The first to be completed will be the 53rd elementary in the district, Houghton said.

Gamma Construction Company has placed a fence surrounding the property and begun leveling the 16.3-acre feet lot. The project is expected to be complete by July 2013 in time for the school year.



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