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PROJECTS - Bell Elementary

Henry M. Bell Elementary
Tyler, TX

Tyler Indepent School District is located in Tyler, TX, a city focused on maintaining its rich historical heritage. As a result, a mandate was given by the Board of Trustees to design new elementary schools with a traditional/historical look to complement that heritage. They further expressed a desire that there be a significant design element marking the main entry into the school.

Henry M. Bell Elementary is a replacement school, designed to accommodate 600 students, with the potential to expand the campus to potentially support up to 800 students. In order to reduce costs of land acquisition, the district opted to build the new school on the existing school's campus. The existing school had to continue in use during construction, and for one year following completion to be used for swing space for another campus which was to be demolished and replaced.

This resulted in an extremely restrictive building site and had a major impact on the design of the facility. Further impacting the design was the requirement that the design be prototypical and be able to be placed on up to four additional existing campuses.

The resulting design is both visually impressive and functionally inviting. Grades are clustered by wings and floors, with easy access to support areas such as the library, computer skills lab, cafetorium, etc. The music room is located adjacent to the cafetorium, with a backstage access to the cafetorium stage.

One of the most popular features of the design is a secured, enclosed courtyard, containing an outdoor eating area and three learning or outdoor classroom areas. An outdoor stage/amphitheater area is provided for special events. The courtyard walkway contains mathematical and grammatical symbols. Hardy, low maintenance vegetation is provided both in ground-level beds and raised planting areas which also provide seating areas throughout the courtyard. In lieu of grass, a high quality artificial turf which is soft, durable and water permeable was provided for “lawn areas”, reducing maintenance.

In each classroom, a wall of millwork provides excellent storage and counter space, and a sink is provided in each room. All kindergarten and first grade rooms have individual restrooms. Resource rooms are fitted with acoustically rated operable panel walls to allow use as one or two rooms, increasing the flexibility to support multiple special programs.

The school is networked to the district’s internal technology system, and is wired for maximum computer utilization in each classroom. Every classroom has both teacher and student computers as well as a ceiling mounted projector through which the teacher can access streaming video, utilizing the significant educational resources of the school district.

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