Cynthia Ann ParkerElementary School
As a part of Houston Independent School District, Cynthia Ann Parker Elementary is a culturally diverse school with forty-seven percent of its students of low-income status. The school houses an award-winning magnet program which offers comprehensive music instruction to include: Suzuki strings, choral music, piano, music enrichment, and band. In order to further expand this instruction the school staff, Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), and students have reached a consensus that more performance and practice areas are needed in order to further reach educational and performance goals. Parker Elementary’s PTO partnered with the University of Houston Graduate Design/Build Studio to achieve this goal in March 2008.
The goal of this project was to create a dual-purpose space at Cynthia Ann Parker Elementary School – for use as a rehearsal and performance stage for Houston Independent School District’s first magnet program in music and for use as an enhanced after-school dismissal area. The structure offers a new public space encompassing approximately 620 square feet under roof. As an example of sustainable design, the project acknowledges its existing context by feeding its rainwater runoff into a mulched garden that nourishes a prominent existing oak tree on the north side of the structure. Two new sycamore trees planted to the south of the structure offer additional shade for an open lawn that serves as a spacious informal audience area.
For the first time, the students were presented with the opportunity to fully prefabricate their design in the Burdette Keeland Design Exploration Center, a new workshop on the University of Houston campus completed in 2007. By prefabricating within a controlled workshop environment, the students achieved a higher level of tolerance control and lowered project costs by eliminating inaccuracies that are commonly found in work executed in the field. This resulted in shorter construction time on-site, and more efficient use of materials.