Medrano Middle School Wins at TASA/TASB Exhibit of School Architecture

Francisco F. “Pancho” Medrano Middle School, which opened in August 2008 in Dallas, Texas, has been recognized for outstanding achievement in Sustainability and Value by the Texas Association of School Administrators and Texas Association of School Boards in their 2011 Exhibit of School Architecture that takes place at their annual convention. As part of the Exhibit of School Architecture Competition, this school was among a select group of the 92 school projects that were entered. The various criteria by which schools were judged included excellence in sustainability, value, design, innovation, educational appropriateness and process of planning.
A landmark and anchor for a steadily urbanizing neighborhood, this 169,000-square foot, $22 million middle school designed for 1,200 Dallas ISD students reflects a progressive educational program organized around learning communities of students at each grade level, including a diverse range of academic spaces to support traditional, interdisciplinary and project-based instructional models.  The tight budget and compressed design and construction schedule led to the design approach:  Do more with less, and still achieve LEED for Schools Certification!
As part of the visioning process of the project, GSR Andrade prepared a comprehensive master plan for the 21-acre campus that not only addressed the complex traffic circulation intrinsic to these types of facilities, but that also envisioned future growth of the school, including expansion space and facilities for an additional 400 more students.  With physical education being a core component of the school mission for healthy minds, a football/soccer field, a baseball field, a softball field, tennis courts, and hard court basketball courts are integral components of the campus.
A testament to the school’s high performance design, Dallas ISD did not commission the team to initiate the LEED Certification process until the middle of construction.  Using a team approach with the contractor and owner, Medrano Middle School was Certified under LEED for Schools in July 2009. Just some of the sustainable measures highlighted in Medrano Middle School include:
·      This was the first Dallas ISD school to utilize a geothermal heat pump system for its heating and cooling.  Throughout the site, under parking lots and fields, are almost five hundred 250-foot deep looped wells.  This system, in conjunction with a high performance building envelope, will save the middle school over $110,000 in energy costs a year. The calculated payback was approximately six years.
·      With the extensive use of dual-flush toilets, low-flow urinals, ultra low-flow sinks and efficient landscape irrigation systems, the facility is saving over 5,200,000 gallons of water per year.
·      Hand in hand with busing, is the encouragement of bicycle use for both students and faculty, with secure storage and showers provided in accessible locations around campus.
·      In a time when flooding has an ever greater impact on the urban environment, this campus has cut the existing stormwater runoff by over 25%, taking over 450,000 gallons of water (enough for 31 residential swimming pools) out of  the city’s already overburdened creek and river system per year.
·      With special efforts made to preserve as many existing large, mature trees as possible, and using highly reflective concrete at all paving on campus, the heat island effect has been mitigated.
·      Over 33% of the construction materials used in the school came from post-consumer and pre-consumer recycled content.
·      Over 71% of the construction materials used in the school were extracted, processed and manufactured regionally, most predominantly in the north Texas area.  This significantly reduced the environmental impacts resulting from transportation.
·      Emphasizing the health of the students and faculty, materials were chosen that would limit the emission of harmful chemicals, or volatile organic compounds, in paints, adhesives, sealants, flooring, walls and ceilings.
About the Caudill and Criteria Awards
The Caudill and Criteria Awards are given annually at the TASA/TASB Convention in honor of William Caudill, FAIA, and his distinctive, innovative achievements in the architectural field. The School Exhibit of Architecture Competition is a collaborative project of the Texas Association of School Administrators, the Texas Association of School Boards and the Texas Society of Architects that highlights new public educational construction and renovation projects in Texas that have taken place over the past five years, and acknowledges excellence in the planning and design of Texas public education facilities.
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