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2013 Award: Associated Masonry Contractors of Houston Golden Trowel Excellence Award

Project: Carnegie Vanguard High School


Houston, TX (Sept., 2013) – The Associated Masonry Contractors of Houston presented Camarata Masonry Systems, Ltd. with the Golden Trowel Excellence Award in the Block category for Carnegie Vanguard High School. This project, along with Camarata Masonry Systems, Ltd., also received the Texas Masonry Council 2013 Honorable Mention (Block-CMU) Golden Trowel Award in August 2013

Everything about the school’s new 98,000 square-foot campus at Taft and West Gray will speak to creativity and learning, from its lines and colors to its use of interactive learning spaces. The school will be able to accommodate about 600 students, although enrollment now is approximately 450.

Most of the funding for the $17.4 million campus comes from a bond issue approved by HISD voters in 2007. The remaining money, funding from the Houston Parks and Recreation Department and Fourth Ward Redevelopment Corp., will go toward development of a community park on campus, across the street from an existing pocket park. The Carnegie Vanguard design team had about 8 acres to work with on a 15.7-acre district-owned site that already is home to the Gregory-Lincoln Education Center, a fine arts magnet school for pre-kindergarten through eighth grades at 1101 Taft St.

The new campus has two courtyards. One is an informal gathering area; the other is the site of an amphitheatre that will be available for community use and a dining area. Additional features include a two-story library known as the House of Learning and a nearby lounge area. The park site will feature a soccer field, baseball field and sandlot volleyball court. The architecture team incorporated a parking garage into the campus design to allow more outdoor play space. Plans include adding a tennis court to the roof of the garage.

The school is designed to be environmentally friendly. One of its key features in that regard will be decentralized heating and cooling system, which will be able to focus on specific areas of the building. Also planned is a roof where students can plant gardens and use outdoor classrooms.

Camarata Masonry Systems, LTD (CMS) supplied and installed over 6,630 4x8x16 Pumpkin Orange and 5,430 4x8x16 Classic Red glazed tile. All walls were designed to be on a slight radius. This combined with the stacked bond pattern required careful layout. Since the glazed tile units did not accommodate a vertical prefabrication technique, all soffits were prefabricated face down in CMS’s warehouse and were brought out to the job on pallets once cured. The tile was cut to create troughs that were reinforced with high strength flowing grout and reinforcing steel. The reinforcing ran through eye bolts which were used to attach the units to the structural steel. Each soffit unit was held in place by several men while the final attachments were made. Due to the necessity to align the soffit joints with the inside and outside walls, the joints in the prefabricated soffits were slightly splayed.

The end result is a visually stunning installation that exhibits a high degree of precision.

Architect: Ray De La Reza Architects General Contractor: Turner Construction


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