Herod Elementary, Houston ISD

LEED and Sustainability, Schools

LEED Silver New Construction

Houston, Texas


86,000 sf

Project Features
  • Communal learning spaces
  • Carpool drive circle
  • Visitor/Employee parking
  • Two playgrounds
  • Covered play area
  • Community garden
In 1956 Captain Gary L Herod selflessly crashed his failing plane into the countryside surrounding Houston to spare the lives of others. The story of Captain Herod, the namesake of the school, is the inspiration for the design and the organization of the building. Pilot Herod’s heroism symbolizes an awareness of community and clarity of a chosen path: to protect the lives of others. These ideals are expressed in architecture in the simplicity of plan, the organization of program elements around gathering areas, and the way natural light helps to organize these spaces.

The design approach elevates daylight, community learning spaces, and connection to the outdoors to the primary building blocks that shape the spatial planning of this school. Clerestory windows bring light into the central spaces of the building creating vertical light wells that connect the school community both horizontally and vertically. As an architectural metaphor these shafts of light reaching skyward allude to the heroism of the school’s namesake. Wall graphics reinforce the heroic theme of “Reaching for the Sky” while a playful and dynamic ceiling design seeks to draw the eye and spirit upward once again with ceiling clouds that slide past walls and colored ceilings that define place and programmatic use.

This LEED Silver school aims to be a teaching tool. Ceilings slope up to the windows reflecting daylight deeper into classrooms. Outdoor teaching nodes become laboratories where students learn the natural water filtration of bio swales, concepts of rainwater harvesting, and the native ecosystems of the Gulf Coast region.
Nicola Springer, AIA, LEED AP 713 426 7510
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Nicola is an expert in 21st century learning environments and educational design. She has created state-of-the-art public and private schools and developed PlayTheory, a process that engages stakeholders in a fun, collaborative way to gather quantitative and qualitative information that is used during the design phase. Nicola's talents and expertise are often utilized on projects throughout the firm, including higher education and community projects.

  • Green Schools Award, Honorable Mention, 2012