Frank Architects receives Design Excellence Award for new campus
April 7, 2016
The architects which designed the new VMT campus have received an award for their design.
Frank Architects received the Design Excellence Award from the Lower Rio Grande Valley American Institute of Architects Chapter Design Awards Program.
Frank Rotnofsky, a principal at Frank Architects, explained the vision he had in designing the campus.
“The Vidal M. Trevino (VMT) School of Communications and Fine Arts was a very important project for Laredo ISD that would transform and on a large scale a well-known neighborhood in Laredo, the Heights as well as provide its students with a state of the art learning facility,” he wrote in an email to The Magnet Tribune. “As a local firm, we understood how important the VMT was to the community and how its very creation involved the then innovative notion of re-urbanization by the administration. The context of its original location, as a re-master planned collection of historic buildings adaptively reused in a very important Laredo neighborhood, and expansion plans was as much a part of the architectural program as any required function.”
He wrote about the idea that the building is a major attraction in the Heights neighborhood.
“The project concept had to do more than be a unifying idea for a building, it needed to be a rallying vision for the users and graduates of an arts magnet school who had come to treasure the value of the school’s urban context but also understood the evolution it had to undergo. Our firm presented the concept of the VMT: the ‘Beacon of the Heights,’ he wrote. “The image and its arching meaning captured the imagination and spirit of what the new school was to become as the next generation LISD’s arts magnet school at the north door of the Heights Neighborhood. Each meeting that followed, from ground breaking to ribbon cutting, the ‘Beacon of the Heights’ was the one constant refrain and thread.”
Rotnofsky said teachers were important in helping to create the school’s design.
“Teacher and staff input was extremely important to the design process and ultimately the success of the building design. We had numerous meetings with LISD administration, Board of Trustees, the VMT faculty, and an appointed committee made of fine and performing arts leaders of our city,” he said.
Rotnofsky explained his feelings towards the completed campus and its design.
“The most satisfying part of the process is when the construction is complete and the campus is handed over to the district and the VMT teachers, staff and students move in and start using the facility,” Rotnofsky said.
He explained what the award means to him and the company.
“It’s very gratifying to receive a design award from our peers (American Institute of Architects LRG Chapter). I think the collaborative effort of everyone mentioned above made this project a success, which ultimately led to this design award,” he wrote.
A groundbreaking ceremony took place April 29, 2013, at the Nixon High campus. The school cost about $24 million, and students and staff moved into the new school last August. The original campus opened in August 1993 in remodeled, district-owned buildings.
‘Our kids deserve the best’
Superintendent Dr. A Marcus Nelson explained his vision for the new campus in an e-mail.
“As the superintendent of schools for Laredo ISD, I recognize the contributions of the late Vidal M. Trevino to our school district. This was his vision. I’m honored to carry on his vision for the students of Laredo ISD. Anyone who remembers his commitment to education, knows that I share his passion for equity in education. Our kids deserve the best so that they can be prepared to graduate from high school and attend the college of their choice, start a career, or join the military,” he said.
Nelson explains some of the challenges faced in the school’s design.
“Public schools across Texas have gone through some financially challenging times. LISD wanted to make sure sufficient funding was set aside for all the costs associated with building a new campus. I am very grateful that the LISD Board of Trustees worked diligently to make this new campus a reality. I also thank the voters of LISD for entrusting us with the resources to construct the new buildings. Once we selected the location at the former First Baptist Church, we also wanted to make sure that we optimized all the square footage made available to us. We even made use of an existing building which was incorporated into the new edifice seamlessly,” Nelson said.
He explained how he felt towards the new school.
“I am very proud to have this facility centrally located in the Heights neighborhood. I am honored to have worked with the LISD Construction Department, architects, construction company, contractors, and staff to complete this project on time and under budget. I am also very fortunate to work with the LISD Board of Trustees who take facilities planning so seriously. I look forward to the hundreds of performances in the new school and watch our students shine in a way that makes us all proud,” he said.
Nelson explains what the award means to him, teachers and staff.
“The building of the Treviño Magnet School was a team effort,” Nelson said. “For people outside of our district to recognize our collaboration is very satisfying. It would not have happened without many people’s input and time.”