Condit Elementary Golden Trowel Excellence Winner

Constructing a new school is a source of local pride and a chance to build a landmark. That’s why many Texas school districts often turn to masonry; it’s the one construction material that ensures long-life and a legacy for the future.

One example of a future Texas landmark is the Houston Independent School District’s Condit Elementary. The new school, located in Bellaire, was designed by Fort Worth’s VLK Architects. The firm’s promotional materials describe the project as one that “benefited from strong parent, teacher and community engagement in the design process that represents education as the ribbon that ties the community together”.

“I think most people prefer a school made out of masonry,” says Eric Graves, Vice-President of Sales for Best Block™ Concrete Products. “Many of us growing up in Texas probably went to a school built out of masonry. It’s something I think a lot of people pride themselves on when they can look back and see the school in the same condition it was when they went through. We’re building to last generations and that’s what masonry is all about.”

The striking modern structure replaced an older school and features a unique mix of both brick and architectural concrete masonry available from Best Block. “When it comes to masonry construction, the designers of Condit Elementary created a unique modern look that’s very much outside the box,” says Graves. “There’s a variation of different products in there.”

Variety of Products Utilized

The main entrance of the facility combines tinted glass, metal awnings and three different linear shapes of architectural concrete masonry. The veneer units, in a striking island sand integral color, were manufactured at Best Block’s state-of-the-art production facility located in nearby Alleyton. A complementary red brick with matching mortar worked alongside the architectural concrete masonry and other building materials to fulfill the designer’s vision for the new school.

In the Houston market, Best Block carries brick, stone and concrete masonry products and that strong lineup provides customers a valuable resource.

“The nice thing about having a variety of building materials to offer your customer is you’re not pushing them into one product or the other,” says Graves. “You can give them a realistic expectation about each material. It opens up an opportunity to let us show how Best Block can meet their needs and really takes the pressure off the end-user to decide.”

Long-term Cost Efficiencies

Graves says school districts learned of masonry’s long-term cost efficiencies a long time ago and have come to rely on the permanence of brick and concrete block. “Long term durability is huge,” notes Graves. “Sometimes school kids are not so easy on a lot of interior materials. That’s one thing that a school board really focuses on is durability. Also, the cleanliness of it. Concrete block are easily cleaned and don’t really require that much touch-up. Typically, you can paint utility grade CMU while our high-end finishes like ground face, polished or textured provide a durable, beautiful surface.”

The school, completed in 2016, earned numerous industry accolades including the 2017 Golden Trowel Excellence Award (K-12) from The Associated Masonry Contractors of Houston. The masonry contractor for this project was Newcastle Masonry while DivisionOne Construction served as general contractor.

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