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Memorial tree a key feature of planned school

Huckabee Architects
A rendering of the school library shows the installation of a large tree sculpture tribute to the victims of the May 24 tragedy at Robb Elementary.

The design of the new two-story school that will replace Robb Elementary features the rich colors from the Uvalde landscape, encapsulates area history, welcomes light with large windows, and memorializes the 21 lives lost on May 24 with a permanent tree sculpture.

The tree features two large branches that symbolize Irma Garcia, 48, and Eva Mireles, 46, and 19 smaller branches for the fourth-graders who were killed during the last week of the 2021-22 school year. The sculpture will be installed as part of the school library and will be visible from the outdoor courtyard.

“We are still working with the victims [families] about whether we are going to put a name under or a quote on top [of each branch] or what we are going to do. And we’ve have some ideas about how we are going to tell the story of each child,” said Lalo Diaz, co-chairman of the community advisory committee that was tasked with overseeing the design of the school.

Huckabee Architects and the Uvalde CISD Moving Forward Foundation presented design elements and material selection processes, as well as security measures such as secure access points, on Tuesday, April 11 at the Herby Ham Activity Center. 

Diaz and Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Academic dean Natalie Arias, also a co-chairman of the approximate 30-member committee, recapped processes for developing the final design. 

The architects used elements of nature into the design of the facility, said Mike Hall, Austin-based director of design for Huckabee Architects. 

Architects incorporated sunsets, recognized Uvalde’s trees in the roadways, the monarch butterfly migration path, and the honey bee in the interior and exterior of the school. Hall said the firm wanted to make sure they are sourcing materials from the region. D’Hanis bricks are one example of the local resources incorporated in the design. 

The school’s wayfinding system for students and visitors will be color coordinated. Icon symbols will include honey bees, butterflies and rivers to identify grade level areas, classrooms, etc.

Approximately 35 people attended the meeting, including school board members, district staff, and interim superintendent Gary Patterson.

The Uvalde CISD Moving Forward Foundation is the non-profit organization which is fundraising $60 million for the construction of the school. The group has held several workshops that have informed the design and site location process. 

Members of the community advisory committee  visited three elementary schools on Sept. 29-30, including Rancho Sienna Elementary School in Liberty Hill ISD; Igo Elementary, Jarrell ISD; and Purl Elementary, Georgetown ISD.

The new school, which is not yet named, will be constructed adjacent to Dalton Elementary, to allow for synergy between the two campuses. There will be an outdoor play space that both campuses may use, and other elements such as kickball fields that will be fenced and protected. There will be approximately 80 parking spaces at the front entry and 150 parking spaces in the rear of the building for staff and special events.

The UCISD board of trustees approved the site in November upon the recommendation of the community advisory community. 

Tim Miller, executive director of the Uvalde CISD Moving Forward Foundation, said of the $60 million needed, “we still have about $15 million cash donations we need to raise.” 

He said the foundation also needs about $8 million of in-kind donations of services or materials. H-E-B Stores, Charles Butt, and the Butt family kickstarted the fundraising with a $10 million donation.

The community advisory committee and Huckabee Architects will present the schematic design to the school board for approval on Monday, April 17, during the board meeting set to begin at 6 p.m. in the Benson Educational Complex, 601 Dean St.

mfederspill@ulnnow.com, 830-278-3335