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Updating for the next generation

image Ernestine Matzke Elementary School

HOUSTON - When the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District began planning a new elementary school to replace the existing outdated elementary school for an already population, they looked for a winning team to fulfill their vision.





    Purcell Construction Inc. began operating in light commercial renovation projects in 1990.  Experience and quality work quickly expanded Larry and Paula Purcell’s company into multi-million dollar projects in the academic arena. With 90 percent of the firm’s business involved in school construction and various school district projects they teamed up perfectly with PBK Architects who has more than 37 years of planning award-winning K-12 projects. This was the winning team Cypress-Fairbanks ISD was looking for.
Purcell Construction began breaking ground on Matzke Elementary in Jan. 2016. The 127,183 S.F. new facility was completed within 22 months.
    To house 1,440 students in Pre-K through 5th grade, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD looked to PBK to create a facility to feature innovative Next Generation design. Features throughout the school purposefully engage students to move around and interact with their learning environment and break away from the traditional instruction method. One prominent feature of the school is the re-created tradition of the Matzke friendship tree. Each year, students and staff add their thumbprint to the tree, symbolizing the ever-growing Matzke family.
    The project was constructed of Nichiha panels, metal panels, sunshade and brick. The heavily wooded area around the new construction provided the added challenge of constructing the new school while maintaining and preserving the natural vegetation of the area. The team had to use forwarding thinking in the designing and construction of the facility to account for the potential future growth of the trees in the area.
    Multiple features of the school encourage students to engage with their learning environment such as the amphitheater designed to resemble a protractor or the carpets of classrooms having rulers and protractors incorporated into them. The cistern in the courtyard promotes sustainability and collects water that can be used in the school’s garden. An entire wing of the school is dedicated to a special education program that has an audiology booth that can run tests and diagnostics on students.
    The recreated Matzke friendship tree carries on a tradition that has been in place since the principal, Cathy Jacobs, was a student and had her thumbprint on the first Matzke tree at the original school campus.
    Partner-in-charge Eric Smith, Project Manager Brandon Ross, project architect Sarah Stolting and project designer Jorge Tiscareno maintained constant lines of communications throughout the life of the project, which helped contribute to the success of this project. Both Purcell and PBK worked continuously with Cypress-Fairbanks ISD and their Project Manager Jesse Clayburn throughout the entirety of the construction process. All parties were focused on creating the best possible school for the students, faculty and staff.
    PBK has been working for the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District for about 18 years and have a productive ongoing professional relationship. Matzke is just one of multiple projects that PBK and Purcell Construction have partnered on for the Cy-Fair ISD and they both look forward to continuing their strong, creative relationship.
    PBK Architects Inc., founded in 1981 is a multi-discipline full service AE firm based in Houston, Texas with specialized expertise in Next Generation educational environments.    
    Purcell Construction Inc. is a full-service general contractor in Humble, TX that specializes in school construction. -cmw

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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net