Dripping Springs: Board Gets Design Update for Elementary/Middle School Project
Featured Illustration (above): Rendering of the main entry to the relocated Walnut Springs Elementary School. Image: Corgan
By Edmond Ortiz
Dripping Springs (Hays County)–Trustees with the Dripping Springs Independent School District (DSISD) met Nov. 18 to get an update on the design for the bond-funded relocation and integration of Walnut Springs Elementary School at the Dripping Springs Middle School site.
School district voters in May 2018 approved DSISD’s $132 million bond, which also covers construction of a fifth elementary school, and renovations and upgrades to the high school, athletic fields, Rooster Springs Elementary School and the district’s transportation facility.
Corgan, an architecture firm overseeing design for the projects supported by this bond issue, provided site and floor plans for the revamped property that will accommodate both Walnut Springs Elementary and Dripping Springs Middle schools.
Rendering of the courtyard and library of the relocated Walnut Springs Elementary School. Image: Corgan
Dripping Springs ISD has three construction managers at risk spread across all projects from the 2018 bond, with Cedar Park-based American Constructors responsible for Walnut Springs/Dripping Springs Middle.
This combined $38.1 million project involves 105,000 square feet of the rebuilt and relocated Walnut Springs Elementary, and 60,000 square feet of renovations to the middle school.
There also will be a redesign of the parking lots and traffic flow; the design of a new learning amphitheater for use by both schools; and the design of collaborative work spaces meant to be available to faculty and staff of both schools.
District administrators will relocate their operations to the existing Walnut Springs Elementary campus after relocation of the old elementary school is finished.
One of the presenting architects, Erin Ortwein, said Corgan appreciated the amount of input from teachers and staff of both campuses, as well as community members, in designing the integrated school site.
Rendering of the interior lobby of the relocated Walnut Springs Elementary School. Image: Corgan
Stakeholders providing feedback in the design phase prioritized things such as classroom size, safety, acoustics, and striking a proper balance between a light-hearted environment and the school’s chief task of offering comprehensive education.
“It should be geared around learning and around getting (kids) excited about where they’re going,” Ortwein said of the new design.
The school board presentation included renderings of the new elementary school’s courtyard, library, gym and cafeteria.
Enhancements planned for the middle school include a functional academics area and repurposing a space in one building wing for small theatrical performances.
This link leads to all of the renderings and schematics presented at the Nov. 18 meeting..
Board President Carrie Kroll expressed worry that it seems like much of the design for this project revolved around the elementary school and not enough on the middle school.
“I do think in the next few years you will see a lot of collaboration between these two faculties, but it will take a little more effort on the part of the leadership,” outgoing Superintendent Nola Wellman responded.
American Constructors has plenty of experience taking on education-related construction projects, including renovations and additions to several Temple Independent School District campuses, improvements and expansion at Leander High School, and development of the Austin Independent School District performing arts center.
The white roofs mark the new structures that will make up the relocated Walnut Springs Elementary School at the existing Dripping Springs Middle School site. Image: Corgan
Corgan has offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston and other cities around the country and abroad. Corgan has extensive experience in primary and higher education construction projects, mainly in North and East Texas.
Austin-based Cunningham Allen, the project’s civil engineer, is presently coordinating with Corgan and American Constructors on improvements to the wastewater connection between the school site and the nearby Arrowhead subdivision. The project team is currently doing a traffic impact study, too.
Building drawings are due in late January 2020. Construction is to begin in April 2020 and be done in time for the start of the 2021-2022 academic year.
VBX has reports on these projects available to VBX members: 2019-04F8 for the elementary school; 2019-058D for the middle school.
Site plan for the relocated Walnut Springs Elementary School. Image: Corgan
Edmond Ortiz is a lifelong San Antonian and a 20-plus-year veteran in local journalism, He previously worked full-time at the San Antonio Express-News, and has been freelancing for outlets such as the Rivard Report.