Keller Citizen

Keller trustees approve design, contractor for new middle school

The main entrance has “a residential style” peaked roof to echo elements of the adjacent housing development.
The main entrance has “a residential style” peaked roof to echo elements of the adjacent housing development. Artist rendering

A new fifth- through eighth-grade campus on the west side of the Keller school district will include features that encourage physical activity, collaborative learning and creativity.

At the November board meeting, Keller school trustees approved the conceptual design from VLK Architects and approved Steele & Freeman as the construction manager at risk for the project.

District officials purchased the 28-acre site from Blue Maple Group LLC, a South Carolina-based development firm that is designing a master planned community for an area between Old Denton Road, North Tarrant Parkway, the Interstate 35W frontage road and Basswood Boulevard.

The campus is located just west of Old Denton on a planned extension of Thompson Road, the northern boundary of the development. The Monterra Village apartments are just north of the site.

Leesa Vardeman, managing partner with VLK Architects, said the development will include miles of trails that will connect homes to the school and to neighborhood parks.

“We’re really excited about the opportunity of how the building is going to connect to the development and the care the developer is taking to design in support of that,” Vardeman said.

The classroom wings are on the east side of the property, as far from the noise of Interstate 35W as possible. The building sits on a high area of the sloping site with a great view of downtown Fort Worth, Vardeman said. The football field and track are on the west side, with a grassy slope coming down to the field from the parking lot. The grassy hill will provide an additional place to view games.

The building will include flexible spaces with temporary walls to provide areas for collaboration and a few different spots for students or staff to give presentations. Science labs and art rooms will have access to a courtyard. An engineering lab and maker space in the library, along with integrated technology, will foster creative learning, Vardeman said.

Trustee Jim Stitt said he observed the committee vetting process for selection of the construction manager at risk and met a representative of the developer who also attended the meeting to observe the proceedings.

Stitt said that development officials are eager to work with the Keller school district because the campus will be a positive feature for the neighborhood.

The $40.5 million school is part of the November 2014 bond package and is expected to open in August 2017.