VLK’s Condit Elementary at Houston ISD Earns Caudill Award

Fort Worth, Texas-VLK Architects’ project, Houston ISD’s Condit Elementary School, has been selected to receive the Caudill Award, in the annual Exhibit of School Architecture competition facilitated by the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) and Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). Condit Elementary School is one of four schools in the state that has been recognized by the Exhibit of School Architecture.

Watch the Condit VideoClick the image to view the Condit Elementary School video.

Condit received four stars from six areas of distinction, Design, Community, Planning, and School Transformation, making it eligible for the Caudill Award which is named after Texas architect William Wayne Caudill whose progressive concepts continue to influence school design today.

This two-story replacement school features open collaborative spaces and flexible furniture that can be configured in a variety of different ways. The new Condit Elementary still remains a special part of the Bellaire community, not only because of its history, but also because of its ability to serve students in a space that inspires next generation learning. 

The design concept, “Education is the Ribbon that Ties the Community Together,” honors the relationship between Condit and its local community of Bellaire, and is showcased in the very walls of the new facility. 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. 

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 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.” 

“I believe architecture is graded by the emotion it strikes in its users,” said Richard Hunt, VLK Project Designer. “With Condit, one of my primary intents was to key in on how the children would feel as they used the space. My hope is that they feel it is playful, colorful, and that the building evokes a desire within them to go to school. The open space, vibrant paint colors, and curving walls are all intended to create a fun playhouse environment for the students so they can feel at ease and be excited to learn.” 

The Caudill Award will be presented to Houston ISD and VLK Architects at this month's TASA Midwinter Conference in Austin, Texas. 

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About VLK Architects: With offices in Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, and Houston Texas, VLK Architects provides architecture, planning and interior design services to K-12, higher education, corporate and institutional clients throughout Texas. For more information please contact D’Lee Marshall, at 817-633-9600 or 
dmarshall@vlkarchitects.com.  

About the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA): TASA is the professional association for Texas school administrators, providing networking and professional learning opportunities, legislative advocacy, and targeted communications to support the work of superintendents and other school leaders. The organization’s mission is to promote, provide, and develop leaders who create and sustain student-centered schools and develop future-ready students. 

About the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB): is an association established in 1949 to serve local public school boards. School board members are the largest group of publicly elected officials in the state. The districts they represent serve approximately 5.3 million students. TASB’s mission is to promote educational excellence for Texas schoolchildren through advocacy, visionary leadership, and high-quality services to school districts. 

About the Exhibit of School Architecture and the Caudill Award: The Exhibit of School Architecture awards are given at the discretion of a 12-member jury (four school board members, four administrators, two representatives from the Texas Society of Architects and two representatives from the Association for Learning Environments (A4LE). The Caudill Award winners were chosen from among 27 projects awarded Stars of Distinction in the areas of community, planning, transformation, design, value and sustainability. This award is named for William Caudill, a pioneer in the design of schools. In 1985, Caudill became the first and only Texas architect to receive the American Institute of Architects’ highest individual honor, the Gold Medal, in recognition of his influence as an architect, educator, and author. Under Caudill’s visionary leadership, the achievements of the company he founded—Caudill, Rowlett, and Scott—can be seen in the education facilities of some 26 states and eight countries.