blog article

school design: modern, welcoming, and secure


Gone are the Days of Sacrificing Security

Gone are the days of sacrificing building security for a modern aesthetic or sacrificing a warm and welcoming environment in order to have a contemporary style that will appeal to your community.  These characteristics are no longer independent of each other. You CAN have a school design that is modern, welcoming, and secure; all at the same time. 

There is no longer a need to pick one of these characteristics over the other.
As the saying goes, You CAN have your cake and eat it too!”

Calbert Design Group works with private school directors to create modern, secure, and welcoming spaces that include flexible and functional flow patterns.  We believe that the arrangement of spaces into flexible learning spaces and open community areas should not counteract the security needs of the students and staff.

When designing school facilities with our clients, we take the whole picture into account.  We analyze the long term costs of maintenance of products, the health impacts of building products, and the overall aesthetic that our clients want to achieve.  We focus on all of these details and guide our clients towards the best solutions for their use. 

This process allows clients to choose their priorities.  While some clients may not be able to absorb the initial costs of a more expensive building material, we make sure that they understand the repercussions of choosing the least common denominator material.  In almost every instance, once we walk our clients through all of the pros and cons of each product, and include an explanation about the lifetime costs as well, we’re able to provide the best solution available.

We want to save you money and time.
Not just today, but every day, for generations to come.

By incorporating concrete masonry units as the structural system of the building, we’re able to meet the needs of our education clients by achieving a more secure building while still allowing for a contemporary design.  Our most common school projects within the Private K-12 space generally include a one-story floor plan that integrates concrete masonry units and masonry veneer stone into creative, warm and inviting spaces.  The structural design is highlighted by masonry columns and a vaulted ceiling entryway. 

The strength of masonry construction provides resilience in the event of storms and strong winds and also enhances the overall security of the building.  Not only is masonry non-penetrable, but there’s also a psychological reaction to being inside a masonry building that gives people a secure feeling.  We’ve found this to be a big attractor with school administrators and community members at large.  As students attend the school and spend large portions of their day in these environments, it gives everyone peace of mind that not only are they safe, but they feel safe as well.

Recognized for our expertise in school design, Calbert Design considers constructability to be vital in the building’s structural design.  We achieve the modularity of wall system solutions used for the school’s interior and exterior.  Masonry walls outlast wood-framed walls and are less expensive to maintain.  Although wood-framed buildings are certainly appropriate for various building applications, the reality is that wood rots and concrete doesn’t.  Insects, particularly wasps, carpenter ants, and termites love to feed and nest on wood but have no interest in concrete.

Concrete block equipped with an appropriate moisture repellant system will prevent mold from occurring through the exterior building envelope and keep the air quality of the building interior spaces to a high and clean standard.  This better air quality will result in fewer sick students and staff, which will, in turn, raise the academic achievement of the school overall.  Fewer sick days means more days teaching and learning.

Lowering the maintenance budget allows schools to thrive and grow without the burden of outrageous maintenance costs that take place continuously for the life of the building.  When working with our clients to design their facilities, we are always cognizant of the lifetime value of the materials we select and recommend.  In today’s economic climate, many private schools are struggling.  Our goal is to design buildings that will last beyond our lifetimes and be relevant for many future generations to come.

We’re huge fans of masonry in general, especially for private schools like our clients utilize.  It offers a rich look that stays within budget and allows us and the construction team to adhere to the typically tight timelines of the education industry.  Staying within the allotted construction schedule gives school administrators the confidence to know that the new building will be ready in time for the new school year.

For load-bearing walls and interior partition walls, we generally specify Concrete Masonry Units (CMUs). For the exterior, full bed depth masonry veneer is commonly used to create a complete design scheme with colors that complement the local region of each unique school. Concrete Masonry Units (CMUs) are also used to support the roof systems.  They are naturally fire resistant, so they are appropriate for fire-rated hallways and exterior walls.

Designing with the CMU block is also an essential part of the process, serving as the structural backup to the exterior masonry stone-look veneers.

Using concrete masonry also allows us to design wall systems that deliver continuous insulation and air venting. Detailing wall systems like these simplifies and speeds up the design process because it uses the same wall ties, flashing, weeps, lintels and other details used in clay brick designs.  

For our school design projects, innovation and sustainability in the design are essential, as are the durability and performance of both the block and stone-look veneers. Each product we specify provides the needed mold resistance, low maintenance, and aesthetics that appeal to the local character of the community.

The general perception among the public is that wood-framed buildings are the least expensive and therefore most cost-effective.  But what we’ve found to be the case is that when you combine all of the advantages of concrete block; water resistance, wind-resistant, fire resistance, puncture-resistant, insulation effectiveness, insect resistance, it becomes clear as day that concrete block construction will be the more cost-effective solution over the lifetime of the building.  

If you’re considering designing and building a new school, learn more about the real estate and property development process that Rebecca teaches her clients.  Check out her blog article, How to Develop Real Estate.

We work towards a shared goal with our clients to manage both the initial costs of construction as well as the maintenance and utility costs of the facility long after construction is completed.

Get in touch with Rebecca@CalbertDesign.com today.