There are approximately 84,000 public schools serving nearly 90% of the 56 million school children in the US. Capital and operating costs of these schools fall largely on the local communities, so when it is time to build a new facility, school districts must ensure that the new building will maximize value to communities. Not only must school boards demonstrate that they are being good stewards of taxpayer money by building a high quality and efficient building that will last, but also that they are taking into consideration the safety, health, comfort and general well-being of the generations of residents who will attend the facility day in and day out.
Masonry is a favorite material for structure, enclosure and façade for many reasons. Because it is typically locally or regionally produced of abundant, native materials, brick and block are readily available, maintaining construction schedule. Masonry doesn’t go out of style, making units easy to match when additions are made, often years later. The aesthetic is compatible with neighboring residences and conveys a sense of quality, timelessness and permanence.
Moreover, masonry is low maintenance and durable making it a good choice for schools inside and out as it stands up to high traffic and abuse from children and adolescents. It is non-off-gassing and mold and pest resistant, all of which contribute to its role in maintaining indoor air quality and contributing to occupants’ good health. Its thermal mass may be a passive strategy controlling energy costs and contributing to thermal comfort. Its high STC ratings minimizes sound transmission from the outside and between interior spaces, preventing distractions and contributing to acoustic performance strategies within spaces as well. Its fire resistance, blast resistance and ability to withstand high winds makes it a safe shelter in case of emergencies.