Condit Elementary Selected for IIDA's "Best in City Chapter" Award
Houston, Texas – On September 8th, the Texas-Oklahoma Chapter of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) selected Houston ISD’s Condit Elementary as a recipient of the “Best in City Center” award. The award is determined by a panel of judges who work together to recognize the highest quality and achievement in interior design. Additionally, projects must meet one of the innovation subcategories which are: energy, security, special needs, indoor air quality, increased productivity, and environmental impact. The initial design concept was inspired by the relationship between Condit and the community of Bellaire, where the school has been located for the past 90 years. This concept, “Education is the Ribbon that Ties the Community Together,” notes the special relationship this school has had with Bellaire since its inception. The central corridor walls curve in and out, mimicking a ribbon, and the classrooms open up to it. “Pods” house each class per grade level and contain their own collaboration space. Perhaps the most innovative design feature of Condit Elementary though, is the Learning Commons which replaces the traditional library design.
“The learning commons at Condit Elementary changes the way the traditional library is used. By weaving and threading the classrooms through the learning commons, learners and educators have access to all the resources that a traditional library provides but in a collaborative and open way,” said Richard Hunt, VLK Project Designer. “Not to mention the space is intended to be fun and playful for the users, rejecting the notion that libraries are basically museums for books.”
As a replacement facility built on the site where it stood for many decades, maintaining some of the history and legacy of the years that preceded the new building was an important component of the new design. Condit Principal Dan Greenberg worked closely with the design team to ensure that the old and the new would meld together in way that excited the community and kept Condit the same cherished school it has always been.
“It was really important for us to maintain some historic aspects of our building. Often times, that means that there are items that we want to make sure come with us,” said Greenberg. “Our original building was from 1928, and what we were able to bring were the keystone, recreate the archway, and have the original Al J. Condit Elementary School sign along with some of the brickwork that is actually inlaid right when you walk in. So the first thing you see when you walk into the new building is a tip-of-the-hat to the old building. We are really proud of that because there is a tradition we want to continue and that starts with acknowledging what a rich history we have.”
The Condit team was honored to attend the Inspire Excellence in Design Awards Gala held in Houston on September 29th to accept this award.