Northwest San Antonio’s Braun Station Elementary School was originally built to support a population of 800 students in pre-kindergarten through 5th grade. Opened in 1982, the existing building was constructed during the era of minimized windows, resulting in limited natural lighting and little connection to the outdoors.
Garza Architects was commissioned by the Northside Independent School District to design an addition that would expand classroom capacity and add support functions, as well as renovating the existing music room.
At Braun Station Elementary, a two-story addition adds classroom space while making the most of a compact, wooded site.
Because the available site was a small, sloped portion of the heavily wooded campus, we created a two-story structure in order to accommodate the required square footage in a smaller footprint. By using a single-loaded corridor layout (classrooms on one side only), we were able to make extensive use of glass on the other side of the corridor, offering expansive views of the wooded site.
Three stairways connect the floors within the building, with two located at the connection to the existing campus corridors and one encircling a new elevator at the center of the addition. We used glazed masonry to express the locations of the stairways and add an element of durability in these high-use areas.
On the exterior, the intentional and expressive use of exposed structural concrete, classroom windows with cast-stone surrounds, and glazed brick reflects the interior functions of the building. On the end of the building, a full-height curved wall screens the views of the classrooms from nearby residences while still allowing for natural light to filter through. This expressive wall also broadens the narrow building width created by the single-loaded corridor plan.
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.