Tucked away in Sugar Land, Texas, near the old sugar mill lies an important piece of Texas history. In the early 1900s, a substantial plot of land was donated by the sugar mill to the town to build what is now Fort Bend ISD’s Lakeview Elementary School. By 1917, it became evident that the two-room schoolhouse needed significant expanding. By the 1920s the school consisted of a semi-circular campus with small grade level buildings and an auditorium in the middle.
As the school continued to grow, they expanded by building a gymnasium, pool, and several smokestacks throughout the campus to heat the different regions of the school. Lakeview would continue to expand from the 1950s through the 1990s.
When the recent rebuild project began, it was paramount that elements of the existing building be incorporated into the project. This included the gym and its wood flooring, the pool, and the smokestacks. The gym, which had undergone expansion during the 1950s, now serves as the school’s library, cafeteria, and stage, with characteristics of the original building still visible in the structure. The wood flooring from the original gym was reclaimed, reinstalled, and refinished in the new gymnasium. The pool was preserved and now serves as a landscaping centerpiece as you drive past the school. While the smokestacks have not been used in their traditional sense since the 1950s, they have been repurposed as a birdhouse to an endangered species of Swift. It may very well be the only known group of Swift in this region. During the rebuild, The National Audubon Society would make regular trips to examine the flight patterns of the birds ensuring the construction project was not disturbing this endangered species.
Extensive preservation work was undertaken to breathe new life into materials salvaged from the older constructions. As you stroll down the main drive you’ll notice the refurbished tile from the old pool, used as a landscaping feature. Additionally, the old wood floor from the old gym was rehabilitated and reinstalled in the new gym.
“Lakeview showcases an investment in the future of students and consideration of the community, while acknowledging the history of the school.” says Trevor Brown, S&P Project Manager. “What made this project unique was the level of teamwork and coordination needed to not only preserve but also incorporate the historical characteristics into the rebuild that were so important to the community.”
The current, completed iteration of Lakeview Elementary School was rebuilt using a design that maintains historic elements of the previous building while incorporating 21st Century technology features. It was a challenge for the team to identify ways to merge the new and old structures together, while making sure everything was structurally sound.
At 90,00 SF, this LEED Silver campus supports students from early childhood to fifth grade. The split-level design incorporates outdoor learning spaces, interior hands-on collaboration spaces, specialized art, music and special education classrooms as well as room for future expansion.
“During the construction phase the community members were thoroughly invested in the process,” said Brown. “Many community members who attended Lakeview would walk up and excitedly ask about the rebuild. Others would sit on their front porches almost every day, watching as the build came together. It was wonderful to see the excitement and positive impact on the community.”
S&P is grateful to our partners at Kirksey and Fort Bend ISD for their excellent work on this project. Lakeview recently won the 2023 Landmark Award and it’s due to the dedication and perseverance of the team. We are proud to have contributed to the future of education in Fort Bend ISD while maintaining the historical origins of Lakeview Elementary School.