Design Guidelines Ensure Quality for 2012 Bond Campuses

Atherton Elementary, seen in its early stages of construction, is scheduled to open for students in August.

All schools under HISD’s $1.89 billion 2012 bond program will be built with the same consistency and quality thanks to the district’s Construction and Design Guidelines, created to give architects and designers requirements for their work on bond campuses.

“It’s a guide for the architects to give them the minimum things we expect in the design of the buildings,” said Dan Bankhead, HISD’s General Manager of Facilities Design.

Originally created in 1998, the district’s design guidelines have been used for HISD’s last three bond programs to provide technical specifications for architects and contractors on items such as materials, plumbing and electrical system preferences. The goal is to ensure overall quality and equity in newly constructed campuses.

District administrators are currently updating the standards for the 2012 bond program, a process that should be complete by the end of the summer.

“We want to establish a minimum standard that will perform and have a long life cycle that’s durable and easy for us to maintain,” Bankhead said.

The guidelines also give architects and designers a better idea of what types of materials to include in the schools.

Even though the guidelines provide detailed specifications, HISD’s Senior Manager of Construction and Facility Services Willie Burroughs said they still give architects the flexibility to innovate.

“It’s intended to be a guideline so it doesn’t stifle their creativity,” Burroughs said. “The district has to maintain a balance between an architect’s creativity and standardization.”

Standardization of designs across campuses will make the schools easier to maintain over the long haul, according to Burroughs.

PBK Principal architect Rick Blan understands the need for consistency across buildings. Not only did he use the district’s guidelines to design HISD’s Reagan K-8 Educational Center under the 2007 bond program, but he also assists the district with updating the guidelines each year.

“One of the (guideline’s) benefits is that it creates a benchmark for all professionals to use so there is a sense of equality throughout the district’s projects,” Blan said. “It takes the burden off project managers to have to make decisions on individual job sites.”

Blan said the guidelines help architects navigate through the design process because it provides a comprehensive place for architects to refer to concepts and materials approved by the district.

“If it’s in the design guidelines, it saves a bunch of time in the design process for HISD and design professionals,” Blan said.