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New Wilmer-Hutchins Elementary Brings Past, Present and Future Together to Serve Community
Designed by KAI Texas, Dallas’s new community-oriented Wilmer-Hutchins Elementary School nears completion and is scheduled to be open in time for the fall of 2011.
The $15 million structure, being constructed for the Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD), covers 103,000 sq. ft. It features a multipurpose auditorium, media center, gymnasium, cafeteria, arts rooms and two two-story classroom wings. It is situated on 8 acres and will use the nickname and mascot of Mighty Eagles. Students will come from the cities of Wilmer and Hutchins as well as surrounding areas. The school is located adjacent to the existing Wilmer-Hutchins High School, which will also reopen in the fall after being closed for several years.
“This is welcome addition to this proud and strong community,” said Darren L. James, AIA, president and COO of KAI Texas. “We believe from our conversations with residents of the area that the new school will enhance neighborhood spirit and reactivate Eagle Pride.”
KAI Texas collaborated with the residents and members of the Wilmer-Hutchins community before creating a design for the new school. Dallas ISD hosted several community meetings and the history and pride of the former students and staff was evident as participants offered ideas. After these meetings, “our design team knew they had to incorporate the key components of Community, Spirit, Pride, Tradition, and Sustainability into the design solution for the school,” said James.
With community at the top of the list, KAI Texas’ design team created an open and inviting school. It welcomes both students and the public for events and serves as a community center for residents. In addition to creating a true community space, the designers incorporated the “Mighty Eagles” mascot and corresponding school colors into the building, bringing together school spirit, pride and the tradition of the previous communities’
Sustainability was also a major factor in the design, with a focus on energy efficiency, daylighting, and sustainable materials. Daylighting is essential in academic environments and numerous studies prove the positive effect of sunlight on performance. The building is situated in a natural environment with trees and greenery, thereby allowing students to connect with the outdoors through the careful placement of windows and glazing. A geothermal well system increases the energy performance of the school, while the use of low-VOC emitting materials that are durable and have long life-cycles adds to the sustainable aspects of the project.
The floor plan is a unique pinwheel design, with two-story classroom wings with grades Pre-K thru 1st on the first floor, and 2nd grade thru 5th on the second level. A two-story library connects the two classroom wings. The center of the pinwheel is the lobby; this double volume space creates a landmark to orient students and to enable administrators to monitor visitors and student activity as well as a pre-function area for community events that will take place throughout the school year.
About KAI Texas
KAI Texas, LC is a Texas Corporation headquartered in Dallas. Founded in 1999 and led by president & COO Darren L. James, AIA, KAI Texas has a staff of over 25 design and build professionals (with an additional 65 personnel through its sister company) that provides program management, construction management, architecture, and mechanical/ electrical/ plumbing (MEP) engineering services. KAI Texas is involved in many DFW-area projects with clients including Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport; Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART); independent school districts such as Dallas, Irving and Fort Worth; the University of Texas at Arlington; and Texas Woman’s University. KAI Texas is a leader in building information modeling (BIM), applying it to architectural, engineering and construction projects firm-wide.
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