The Houston Independent School District Board of Education last week approved a $12 million construction contract to renovate Codwell Elementary School on the district’s south side so that it could re-open for students.
The building at 5225 Tavenor Lane has been closed and vacant since the summer of 2014 when renovation work being done as part of the 2007 bond program uncovered significant moisture problems that required the students to relocate.
Although the initial goal was quick remediation of the issue, further assessments showed the best and most cost effective solution would be a complete renovation of the building. The district hired PBK Architects, and the design team has worked with district and school officials to develop a plan that calls for a new roof, mechanical systems, and windows, as well as a complete interior renovation with new furniture and technology.
“We wanted it designed like a 2012 bond school so the children would have that 21st century experience,” said HISD Chief Operating Officer Brian Busby, who is overseeing the project.
The vote awards the construction contract to Comex Corporation, which is expected to begin work on the school in January.
Although the renovation mostly keeps the original footprint, the renovated school will boast many new components, including a bus drop-off circle off Tavenor Lane, a new entry with security vestibule to better control access to the building, and a new kitchen.
While the renovated school will maintain its existing central courtyard, the new design will turn the exterior main corridors of the 1970s-style building into enclosed and conditioned space. The goal is to not only increase the amount of usable space in the school, but to also address the issues that contributed to the moisture problem.
“By enclosing the building, we doubled the size of the library,” said PBK Project Executive Donald Lee. The library will feature comfortable seating, work spaces and walls that encourage writing.
Codwell Elementary boasts the “Leader in Me” program, and the corridors to different grade level neighborhoods will include graphic messaging to reinforce leader habits, such as curiosity and leadership.
Principal Kristy Love is especially excited about having spaces dedicated to the school’s Fine Arts & Physical Development magnet program, such as the new stage in the cafetorium. In addition, the building will feature a T.V. production Green Room so students will have the space to produce their daily current events program. Consideration is being given to acoustics both in classrooms and the cafeteria space to minimize noise levels and improve the learning environment.
With construction set to start in January, the goal is to complete the renovation this summer and re-open the school in time for the new 2017-2018 school year.