Castleberry ISD Irma Marsh Design

Castleberry Independent School District’s Irma Marsh Middle School is about to embark on a new chapter in a life begun in 1952. When complete, this extensive renovation and addition project will serve 1,100 students in 21st century learning environments that support collaboration, creativity and safety.

The school’s new front entrance, facing Churchill Road, will be identified by a 2-story administration and library building. Common design elements such as windows and materials will integrate old and new.

The existing metal storage building on the campus’s west side has been demolished, and the portable classrooms relocated, making way for the construction of a new 2-story classroom wing and a new fine arts building.

The new, prominently located main entrance spans across both floors of the front addition. The new construction boasts a contemporary design representative of this era, while complimenting and tying into the architecture of the existing school.

Students, faculty and visitors are welcomed through a secure double height vestibule into the school’s administration office. From this space, office staff have direct views to the exterior, the main entrance, and the schools lobby and main corridor.

A complete renovation of the original classroom building will create collaboration and group meeting areas by carving out spaces around the corridors and classrooms. These areas will be used for group projects and break out spaces for students and faculty. New more sophisticated, yet durable finishes and the absence of corridor lockers, give the spaces a more inviting and collegiate feel, shedding the institutional image of the past.

The new media center is located at the top of the central stairs, directly above the administration offices. A folding glass wall system will allow this space to open to the corridor and commons, or be partitioned off as needs fluctuate. This will allow views directly from the commons to the library. All these spaces are intended to be extensions of the commons and give the middle school student a variety of places to study, collaborate, and hang-out.

This room’s open design places the librarian right in the center, with direct views throughout the space and easily accessible to students. The media center is designed to be very flexible, with multiple areas for collaboration and individual study. It takes full advantage of natural light with a wall of glass on the north.

On the south side, there is a direct view to the double volume of the main entrance. An adjacent flex lab and a maker space are designed to be extensions of the library, allowing the free flow of students and faculty from one space to another. However, movable walls allow these spaces to be partitioned off, enabling them to be used for multiple purposes.

The building layout naturally creates secured outdoor learning environments which have proven to be valuable assets to next generation curriculum. These spaces give students and teachers a chance to extend learning past the classroom walls to the outdoors.

The middle school has multiple learning environments, including standard classrooms, science and STEAM labs, and shared, centralized collaboration spaces. All classrooms, in both new and renovated areas, will be larger, and equipped with technology that encourages exploration and critical thinking.

The STEAM labs will support an educational experience that extends beyond the still invaluable traditional science lab. The fixtures, technology, furniture and flexible design of these spaces are intended to spark conversations, creativity and collaboration.

This ambitious project is scheduled to be completed by Fall of 2020. Construction will occur in phases to allow the campus to remain fully operational for the entire duration. When complete, Irma Marsh Middle School will truly be a school of the 21st century that honors its distinguished history.

Michael Holmberg