Garland Special Events Center
HKS, Inc.
Honorable Mention Winner 2006 Education Design Showcase

Project Fact Sheet
Facility Use: K-12 Other
Project Type: New Construction
Category: Whole Building/Campus Design
Location: Garland, TX
District/Inst.: Garland Independent School District
   Dr. Curtis Culwell Superintendent
Completion Date: August 2005
Design Capacity: 7,000 students
Gross Area: 190,000 sq.ft.
Site size: 50 acres
Cost per sq.ft.: $165.00
Total project cost: $31,500,000
Building construction cost: $26,500,000
Site development cost: $5,000,000
Furniture & equipment cost: $1,000,000
Fees and other: $2,500,000
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The Garland Independent School District’s (GISD) Special Events Center isn’t your typical school district building.  The non-traditional center is a distinctively designed special events and conferencing facility that looks more like an energetic performance hall than the typical school district field house. 

The GISD Special Events Center, located in Garland, Texas, is a state-of-the-art assembly and conferencing center serving the needs of the school district and the community. 

The 190,000-square-foot, multi-use building allows the school district to host high school convocations, graduations, sports events, concerts, and teacher in-service activities as well as national and regional tournaments.  The facility is also open to the community for local activities such as seasonal events, corporate training, trade shows, and other municipal functions.

Taxing Questions
Building the GISD Special Events Center was one of the proposals included in the bond election approved by voters in fall of 2002. While the facility was conceived as a place to hold graduation ceremonies, officials knew that it needed to be useful for many other purposes to be cost-effective.

Knowing that tax dollars needed to be spent wisely, the district contracted a team that hosted a collective knowledge of acoustics, sports usage, and space flexibility assuring a quality facility that serves the needs of all types of events from wedding receptions to concerts to sports competitions.

The project team, managed by the Garland Independent School District, included HKS, Inc., architect; Lee Lewis Construction Company, construction manager; Blum Engineering, Inc., MEP engineer; Walter P. Moore Engineers + Consultants, structural engineer; and RLK Engineering, civil engineer. 

“We are one of few school districts that own a special events center,” said Curtis Culwell, Ed.D., superintendent of schools, Garland Independent School District.  “This grand facility is the event center for every school in the district.  It is also available for lease to the community year-round to host all kinds of event.  Its flexibility makes it a cost-effective facility for taxpayers.”

Breakthrough District Design
The school district wanted a special events center that was completely unique to the area.  To meet that goal, the team designed a center with a modern vernacular that incorporates large expanses of glass to allow natural daylighting into the concourses as well as visual connectivity for passersby.  The curved exterior, distinctive roof elements, and numerous façade articulations transform a typical gymnasium into an architectural icon.

A dramatic, multi-story lobby welcomes patrons while a grand stair leads them to the main performance stage.  Expansive glass is incorporated into the event center to create excitement for observers as well as attendees.  The building is enhanced by a Color Kinetics LED lighting system that displays a variation of multi-colored lights inside and outside of the building.

“Since it opened, people continue to line the building’s public street to view the lights,” said Dan Phillips, project designer, HKS, Inc.  “The Color Kinetics system can host red, white, and blue lighting displays for the Fourth of July or red and green to commemorate the holiday season.”

The building’s design cues are taken from the geography of the area’s natural landscape.  A curved front façade and sloped metal roof are designed in accord with the curvature of the neighboring street while multiple overlapping grids are incorporated to create symmetry and orient the building to the north/south. 

Similar design elements are fluently used to express continuity throughout the facility.  Elements from the building’s exterior are translated into the interior – the lobby, with its sloped walls, is an extension of the outside.  The roof’s sloped metal roof is mimicked by accentuated, reinforced structural trusses inside.

Building Flexibility
The GISD Special Events Center hosted two challenges including combining a special events center with a conference center and allowing flexibility for current and future use.

The team designed the special events center portion of the project to blend with the conference center yet have its own identity.  Prominent entries are provided for both facilities with distinct and separate signage, allowing patrons to instinctively identify the proper building.

Flexibility was also a key challenge.  The spacious arena floor can be configured for a variety of sports tournaments.  In addition to the arena, the conference facility includes a 125-seat tiered lecture hall, additional meeting/conference rooms, and an 8,000-square-foot ballroom. The ballroom can be set up for banquets or large meetings or divided into smaller rooms for other meetings. 

The facility is designed to host 10 to 15 person meetings as well as district-wide convocation ceremonies.  In addition, the flexible spaces can be leased to host city-wide events.

Sharing the Rent
Instead of hosting GISD events at Southern Methodist University's Moody Coliseum and various high school locales, the new special events center is open to the community for activities such as seasonal events, corporate training, trade shows, and other municipal functions.

The new facility has 7,000 fixed seats for convocations, basketball and volleyball games, gymnastics, and fine arts performances.  Parking for 1,750 cars is provided adjacent to the facility.  The 25,000-square-foot conference facility includes an 8,000-square-foot ballroom, divisible into eight smaller meeting rooms, a 125-seat tiered lecture hall, and additional meeting/conference rooms.

Tim Mabe and Keith Reimer, the center's sales and marketing team, are getting the word out that the center has more to offer.

"Anything you want us to do, we can do here," said Reimer.  "Anything you see out in the community, we will be proud to do here.  Everyone who lives in the school district, which includes Garland, Rowlett, and Sachse, is a stakeholder in the center.  With it, we will enhance economic development while improving our quality of life.”

Project Description:
1) Control of Institution: Public
5) Joint/Shared Use: Designed as a Joint Use Facility
6) Community: Designed for Community Functions


Methodology & Standards:
District/Institution Decision

Funding Method(s):
Primary Source: Primary Source: Revenue Bonds

Project Delivery Method(s):
CM At-Risk

Sustainable/Green Design:
Site Selection and Development: Building Orientation
Energy Efficiency and Conservation: Energy Efficiency
Materials Use: Sustainable Materials Selection
Indoor Environmental Quality: Use of Daylighting


Associated Firms and Consultants:
Landscape Architecture: Grubbs Ramsey
Construction/Project Management: Lee Lewis Construction
General Contractor: Lee Lewis Construction
Structural Engineer: Walter P Moore
Electrical Engineer: Blum Consulting Engineers, Inc.
Mechanical Engineer: Blum Consulting Engineers, Inc.
Civil Engineer: RLK Engineers Inc.
Acoustical Consultant: Elert & Associates
Technology Consultant: Elert & Associates
Safety Consultant: Hughes Associates, Inc.
Other: Jack Hatchell & Associates (Traffic Engineer)

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