Designing Schools...With Kids in Mind!

Celeste High School, Celeste ISD

Celeste High School

Celeste ISD

Early Planning
The architects spent time in the community to learn the background and culture of the surrounding area.  Then working together with key district personnel, the architects received input regarding the programmatic needs of the district. 

From these meetings, a design took shape, which focused on addressing the district’s programmatic needs while also expressing the traditional values and rich history of this quite, farming community.  The result is a warm and inviting municipal building that promotes student development and responsible citizenship.

This high school is a great example of how a school district, architect and general contractor can successfully design, manage and construct a facility that will carry the students and educators into the future.

Nestled alongside a hill, the design echoes the architecture of the farming community and follows the gentle rolling slopes of the surrounding landscape.  The large, overhanging roof mimics the sloping hillsides and the warm brick matches the rich color of the soil on which the school sits.  
The school’s design fulfills the district’s need for more capacity in a growing district.  The master plan allows for campus expansion in phases at the district’s discretion.  The main corridor separates noisy and quite spaces leaving classrooms quite and undisturbed.  Its position allows seamless and aesthetic expansion of the future classroom wing.

Community areas are conveniently located close to parking and provide secure access to afterhours community events.  The overhanging roof creates a covered event patio for community events while also limiting solar heat gain.  Set at a half level below the rest of the school to match the natural contours of the site, the central location of student commons/dining area and gymnasium encourages students and community to gather.

Educational Approach
The educational goal for this high school was to create a safe school environment, raise academic success, and promote strong connections between teachers, students, parents, and community. 
The building design accommodates convenient and secure community and multipurpose use.  The Media Center infused with natural daylight from its four-sided window design, includes a dedicated Computer Lab and Career Technology Center.  Its design addresses all learning styles by simultaneously allowing for individual study, group work, and personal reading.
Classrooms grouped by discipline and type encourage team teaching and collaborative learning.  High tech elements are abundant and include wireless technology and state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment throughout the learning environment.  The science labs contain the same equipment and resources as many college level classrooms, designed to give students a hands-on approach to learning in a safe, controlled environment.
The school’s comprehensive practice and competition basketball and volleyball court provides views and access to the student commons/dining area.  The athletic wing provides ample dressing room and support areas to support the school’s athletic program.

The district’s needs to plan for student population growth and future program expansion while simultaneously controlling costs inspired a number of design innovations.  To begin, the compact plan and simplistic geometry linked to the central common areas maximized space use while maintaining an open feeling.  By scaling the Event Patio, Media Center and Student Commons for future student populations, the design provides ample space for the students and community to use these flexible and functional areas for a variety programs and activities.
While the centralized Student Commons/Dining area provides inviting views into the gymnasium, it also features a two-sided glass display case, visible from the main corridor too.  It proudly featuring the many athletic accomplishments earned over the years, but more importantly, it displays historical artifacts and gives the history of the school’s mascot by connecting the school to the community’s rich heritage in remembrance of local veterans.

Lastly, Distance Learning classrooms and Computer Labs focus on delivering educational programs to student and community members.  These technology-rich classrooms encourage team involvement and enhance the learning experience by delivering interactive curriculum to students using media board and distance learning technology.

Educational best practices and sustainable technologies intersect to provide an optimal environment for learning.  The use of non-toxic low VOC materials promote better indoor air quality. 

Natural light, used throughout the design to lower utility costs, is carefully harvested to control glare and heat gain.  The single-ply roof is light color to reflect heat and reduce “heat island effect”.

The school design exceeds strict energy code requirements.  Digital controls manage energy use to maximize savings and ensure energy conservation. Dedicated outside air units reduce CO2 levels and improve indoor air quality for students and staff.

The compact, simplistic geometric design improved the overall flexibility for future expansion and allowed more investment into instruction and connected community areas.  In addition, by selecting an existing school property with established baseball and track facilities adjacent to the school, the district dramatically reduced their overall construction cost. 
The long lasting construction provides maximum energy savings while higher-rated, 20-year warranty roofing materials maximize taxpayers’ investment.  The use of energy efficient clerestory windows allows the benefits of natural light in instructional and public areas without excessive heat gain leading to reduced install and lifecycle costs.  Interior stud walls covered with durable finish materials allows for revisions in the future.

Size: 53,400 SF
Capacity: 500
Grades Served: 9-12

Claycomb Associates, Architects provides architectural and master planning services to school districts throughout Texas.
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