Mesquite ISD approves WRA Architects Design for new Elementary

“This is our first package from our new bond program,” said Michael Coffey, assistant superintendent, administrative services. “There will be many more of these to come over the next several years.”

WRA Architects showed the board a schematic design for the new Florence Elementary School, which would be built where the city park adjacent to the current building is located. The school presently faces Gleneagle Drive, but under the approved site plan, the rebuilt school will face Ashwood Drive.


One of the major differences between the Range design and the design of Florence was the ability to move the gym away from the rest of the main portion of the building, which created a natural courtyard between the buildings.

“It will bring in additional [natural] lighting as well as six additional classrooms,” said Tony Apel, with WRA Architects.

The gym will also have some translucent material inside to help enhance the natural light brought in by windows.

The courtyard will house an enclosed playground area and outdoor learning areas, both of which will not be accessible from outside the school.

The new 96,400-square-foot school will have a capacity of 888 students. The current building houses 622 students, but uses several portable classrooms. All of the lower grade levels will be on the lower level, with the upper grades being upstairs.

The district plans to redraw the attendance zone slightly to help ease overcrowding concerns at Shands Elementary School.

A cafetorium will be across from the gym but on the front side of the school, providing a secondary point of entry for buses to drop off students in the mornings. The school will also have entrances available by the gym and library so the school can host after-hours activities in those areas, without having to open up other parts of the building.

There will be windows along the front of the building where the administration offices are, which will allow them to see who is coming and going from the building.

“When they come in, they are forced into the reception area,” Apel said.

The site will have a hike and bike trail that will connect the school to the other amenities located nearby including the North Branch Mesquite Public Library and Florence Recreation Center, as well as the newly constructed baseball field and basketball court. The existing school site will become a football/soccer-type field and will also be accessible by the trail.

“The way this school site is located … creates a real walkability-type site,” Apel said.

Construction on the new school is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2016, and be completed by the opening of the 2017-18 school year. The school district and city of Mesquite must enter into a land swap agreement and final designs be approved before construction can begin. The cost of construction is expected to be $19-20 million.

courtesy of Kenny Green :