Design process kicks off for Garden Oaks Montessori, Pilgrim Academy, Wilson Montessori

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Project Advisory Teams for Garden Oaks Montessori, Pilgrim Academy and Wilson Montessori spent two days last week in a design charrette, where they worked with architects and facilities planners to put together initial design concepts for their schools.

Each school in HISD’s current bond program puts together a PAT made up of stakeholders – parents, teachers, students and community members – and led by the principal. Their job is to provide input and direction to the project team, and give feedback on design options.

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“The charrettes are important because we group similar projects together to allow each PAT to get a fresh set of eyes from other teams facing a similar challenge,” said Kedrick Wright, HISD’s senior manager of facilities design. “It helps to get multiple perspectives on the same problems.”

The three schools were grouped together because the projects have a similar scope of building an addition with some renovations to the existing structure. In addition to determining the best location on the site for placement of the new addition, the teams were also tasked with fleshing out which programs would best be housed in the addition and which ones might fit better in the existing space.

“It’s cool to see how they think about building a new school,” said Andrew Ward, Garden Oaks Montessori eighth-grader and PAT member. “We need more space and a better place to have P.E. for the middle schoolers.”

Read more about the Garden Oaks Montessori project

In addition to adding more space, the draft design plans for the K-8 Garden Oaks Montessori  would honor the history of the campus and preserve the beautiful old oaks trees with an environmentally friendly design.

Architects for Wilson Montessori brought several options for the team to consider as a starting point. Proposals for their new addition include flexible classroom spaces to accommodate small, medium and large group instruction, and a new dining area and kitchen.

Read more about the Wilson Montessori project

“The Montessori spirit spills out into everything we do,” said Krystal McGuire, PAT member and magnet coordinator for Wilson. “We know we have space and budget limitations, but it’s important for us to honor the beauty and history of our school, and at the same time incorporate the Montessori feel.”

Pilgrim Academy is a K-8 dual language school with seven temporary buildings currently on site. While also tackling the issue of a small site and limited budget, the team hopes to incorporate 21st century flexibility and design plans to make the best use of their space.

“It’s a lot different now than when I was in school,” said Don Curl, architect for the Pilgrim Academy project. “Schools I went to were very rigid, but now we have a 21st century way of doing schools, so we can incorporate collaborative and personal spaces with a lot of flexibility.”

Read more about the Pilgrim Academy project

Each school’s architects will take the information gathered from the charrette and put together initial designs for the PATs to review and tweak further. Stakeholders will have the opportunity to view the draft designs and hear from team members and project architects at an upcoming community meeting.