Case Studies

VLK Architects

Designing Exemplary Environments for Public Education

VLK Architects (VLK) has over 25 years of experience designing exemplary, innovative, sustainable environments in reflection of each client’s goals and values. The Texas-based company specializes in delivering a variety of architectural, interior design, planning and construction administrative services to educational, institutional, corporate and commercial clients alike.

VLK has served both the public and private sectors since its inception in October 1984. Three young architects, Howard Vestal, Randy Loftis and Jeff Kalista, opened the original VLK offices with a common certainty: have a lasting impact on the design of Texas’ public schools.

From the company’s first project, Charlotte Anderson Elementary School in the Mansfield independent school district (ISD), VLK believed the best way to deliver professionalism was through providing exceptional services and design solutions to each client. With a focus on an educational client base, school districts recognized the value in teaming with VLK. The firm continues to enjoy significant growth with new clients and a large percentage of return clients.

The original partners eventually sold the firm to Richard A. Jaynes and Leesa G. Vardeman, current co-owners of VLK. “As owners, we remain fully involved in the business,” details Jaynes.

VLK operates out of offices in Houston and Fort Worth, Texas, employing a professional staff of 47. Of VLK’s team, 24 members are registered architects, 11 are LEED certified and the remaining staff is comprised of architectural interns and administrative personnel. The diverse, passionate employee base works as a team of community members, each of whom care about making cities better places to live, learn and work. VLK prides itself on professionalism and integrity.

Working to embody any project’s vision, VLK offers a wide range of services, from architectural to construction administration, to interiors and planning. The company also excels in providing construction administration services, effective team-driven jobsite meetings and site visits, careful monitoring of project schedules and progress, as well as a shepherding of the clients’ funds, all of which are VLK hallmarks.

Interiors are a specialty at VLK. Space planning, corporate facility management, finish and color selection and furniture selection and specification are just a few of the valuable interior design services VLK provides.

Sarah Hollenstein Career & Technology Center

The 126,000-square foot Sarah Hollenstein Career & Technology Center, located in Fort Worth, was developed by VLK using an inside-out approach. VLK’s designers first analyzed at the detailed adjacency requirements within each academy and then developed a conceptual bubble diagram, which served as the catalyst for the schematic design solution.

The center’s automotive technologies, cosmetology and culinary arts programs require exterior access, which drove the design of the building. The center offers other programs like aerospace manufacturing, planning and construction, health science technology, visual arts and computer technologies among many others.

The heart of the career and technology center contains a commons area with a conference center to be utilized by the district for staff development training, conferences and student activities. The adjacent culinary arts program is capable of catering special events in addition to the normal Curriculum, Aesthetics and Teacher Education (CATE) curriculum. VLK partnered with the district to design a facility to support and enhance leadership training as a means of developing a competitive community workforce. The project mission was in line with the experience and philosophy of VLK, strengthening the owner and design team partnership, as well as the final design response.

Pre-K to 12 Projects

VLK is well known for the company’s pre-K to 12 school design throughout Texas. “Our focus is in the educational sector,” details Jaynes. “We’ve been involved in school design since the firm’s inception.” At Ridgeview View Elementary School in Keller, Texas, VLK collaborated with the district and campus administrators to develop the required aggressive construction schedule and a design that would promote flexibility and accommodate multiple forms of learning.

For two days VLK designers met with user groups to thoroughly dissect how each grade level pod of classrooms would operate. The resulting floor plan features pods of classrooms with breakout areas, allowing for collaborations between classes and small group learning environments.

At Bammel Elementary School in Houston, VLK was responsible for replacing the entire building. The previous school was 40 years old, and not equipped to support current technologies. In order to cause as little disruption as possible to the students and faculty, the new 111,000-square foot facility remained open for classes during the process. Due to the team at VLK’s hard work, 98 percent of the school’s classrooms receive day lighting, and students now enjoy a more sustainable facility.

Over the years VLK has worked in more than 48 school districts and designed over 750 educational projects. “The company stresses sustainable design and is seeing a growing number of our projects becoming LEED or CHPS certified,” states Jaynes.

Green schools go beyond the idea of a place for learning; the schools become part of the learning process. VLK implements recycled content and materials, optimized energy performance, storm water management, light pollution reduction, certified wood products and CFC reduction in HVAC equipment, among other practical green design approaches.

VLK believes incorporating sustainable design into schools helps improve academic performance, as well as creates healthy, comfortable environments, provides low operating and maintenance costs and most importantly, engages students. As VLK’s website states, “Sustainable design is an alternative phrase for responsible design. Given that design philosophy, VLK has been a sustainable design firm from its inception.”

The team at VLK continues to work with Texas communities, building sustainable schools and providing support for over a quarter century. As a result, VLK Architects as grown to be a trusted industry leader.

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Spring 2018



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