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  St. Agnes Academy Center for the Sciences and Student Services


Turner Partners Architecture, LP
333 Cypress Run, #350, Houston, TX 77094

General Description

Location: Houston, Texas
Date Bid: Mar 2006
Construction Period: June 2006 to Aug 2007
Total Square Feet: 36,000 Site: 16 acres.
Number of Buildings: One.
Building Size: First floor, 12,000; second floor, 12,000; each additional floor, 12,000; total, 36,000 square feet.
Building Height: First floor, 13’4”; second floor, 13’4”; each additional floor, 13’4”; total, 40’. 
Basic Construction Type: Structural Steel/New. 
Foundation: Slab-on-grade. Exterior Walls: Brick, curtainwall, cast stone, metal panels. Roof: Built-up. Floors: Concrete, steel composite. Interior Walls: Metal stud drywall, brick.  

Construction Team

Structural Engineer: Haynes Whaley Associates, Inc. - 2000 W. Sam Houston Parkway South, #1800, Houston, TX 77042
General Contractor & Cost Estimator: Fretz Construction Company - 6301 Long Drive, Houston, TX 77087
Electrical & Mechanical Engineer: Holste & Associates, Inc. - 6671 Southwest Freeway, #850, Houston, TX 77074

St. Agnes Academy Center for the Sciences and Student Services

Located in Houston, Texas, St. Agnes Academy ranks as one of the city's most respected college preparatory schools, devoted exclusively to educating young women.

The new Center for the Sciences and Student Services is the first phase of a comprehensive Master Plan for upgrading the campus instructional spaces and clarifying the overall circulation pattern. This facility not only includes new laboratory and lecture facilities for students; student services and conference/meeting spaces are included to support the entire campus. All are focused on a new student entrance, the three-story rotunda shaped to evoke a lantern signifying St. Agnes Academy's role as a light for the spiritual and intellectual growth of its students.

The building is a three level structure including a 12,300-square-foot ground floor on which new offices for Student Services, as well as conference facilities for up to 250 persons, are situated. Stacked above are two additional floors housing eight state-of-the-art science laboratory/lecture rooms encompassing 23,700 square feet of space. 

The St. Agnes Campus is located on approximately 16 acres of land in an older urban neighborhood that is experiencing significant redevelopment. Although facilities are shared with a boys' college preparatory school on an adjacent site, land is at a premium for this 800-student institution.

A primary objective for the structure was to contribute to the campus as a compatible and integrated component, yet establish enough of an individual identity to provide orientation for visitors and students. Although the exterior materials selected are similar or identical to the existing buildings, the composition of form and mass for the Center varies as an expression of the functions within, and of its role as the new main entrance for students. Toward this end, the exterior elevations of the building are composed as layers of opaque brick and cast stone panels; glass planes are also incorporated in the overall composition, providing approximately 45% building transparency.

The rotunda "lantern" element was built to contrast with the orthogonal regularity of the remainder of the existing campus. Its highly visible entry is a focal point to pedestrian traffic, as well as to vehicles approaching by means of the main entrance drive. 

The campus is interlaced with a network of landscaped courtyards. This provided an opportunity to create a learning environment rich in natural light, as well as in views of nature and the daily interactive activities around the building. Thus, the building steps back at the ground level, increasing view opportunities from interior spaces and bringing daylight deep into the office floor plates. Above, the laboratories are awash in natural light that nonetheless is controlled through use of exterior sunshades and interior blinds.

LEED® certification was considered for the project, but ultimately declined. However, St. Agnes Academy desired to use the structure to demonstrate its commitment to the environment, thus many "green building" features were incorporated.    


DIV. 7: Aluminum Composite Panels: Alucobond®; Column Covers: Fry Reglet; Built-Up Roofing: Johns Manville. 
DIV. 8: Glazing: Guardian; Curtainwall, Entrances & Storefronts: Vistawall.
DIV. 9: Flooring: Armstrong, Design Weave; Base: Roppe; Acoustical: Armstrong.
DIV. 26: Lighting: Cooper, Hadco, Hydrel, Atlantic.  

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