Northwest San Antonio’s Murray E. Boone Elementary School supports a population of 800 students from pre-kindergarten through 5th grade, as well as participants in the Northside Independent School District’s early childhood program.
The building was originally constructed in 1973, during the era of windowless schools with minimal natural lighting and few connections to the exterior. Despite a variety of renovation and expansion projects over the years, many of these problems were still an issue when we began our work on the project.
The district commissioned Garza Architects to renovate and expand the school’s undersized administration, library, and special education support areas. We were also asked to create a new security lobby that would serve two important functions. In addition to improving campus safety, it would also need to establish a stronger entrance identity in order to address the confusion created by the lack of a clear “front door” for the school.
The impact of our renovation and expansion effort has been significant. Along with creating opportunities to bring more natural light into the building, we made the existing spaces function more efficiently by improving adjacencies to create better pedestrian circulation between the building entries and administration, library, and support areas.
The new security lobby established a controlled point of entry that is supported by video surveillance, secure perimeter boundaries, and maximum visibility between the building’s interior and exterior. At the same time, the new lobby is scaled to create a sense of arrival and serve as a focal point for the building’s architecture.
This focus is reinforced by covered walkways the lead from the student drop-off areas to the entry. Designed to allow for maximum visibility from the administration area – and to make it easier for drivers to see pedestrians – these walkways are another improvement making the campus safer and more secure.
On the exterior, we incorporated materials that reflect stability and permanence and that also control scale and present opportunities for student inquiry. Replacing the brick across the school’s entire facade unified the new and renovated portions of the building.
We designed and specified all building materials and systems using sustainability best practices from the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS). This includes adhering to CHPS recommendations for integration and innovation, indoor environmental quality, energy, water, site elements, and materials and waste management.