2017—James H. Baker Sixth Grade Campus

La Porte ISD—James H. Baker Sixth Grade Campus
Architect: Texas-IBI Group, Inc.

This new, 123,000 SF 6th grade center replaces a sprawling, 1960’s era facility previously utilized as a nuclear fallout shelter. Designed to accommodate 855 students, the unique presence of this building creates a balance between a strong sense of identity for the school and fosters an environment for students and community. The cafetorium allows for a quick lunch turnaround, better student behavior and a venue for community events. The building is a storm shelter for the community.


This prominent landmark features a glass façade entry and an architectural signature of slender, steel pipe and crisp metal porches evokes tall pine trees characteristic to the area. Sections of cut limestone are interspersed with patterned, classic red brick on the exterior. Main circulation corridor and monumental stair connects academic blocks and flexible collaborative spaces. Clerestory light, colorful arrangements of acoustical wall panels and soothing color pallet.


Science and flex spaces can be configured based on group size and function. Building components and finishes are low- maintenance, energy-efficient and life-cycle effective. HVAC and lighting meets the new energy code and allows for more standardized maintenance allows the District to streamline staff. Education is evolving rapidly-this school has integrated systems to allow future remodeling to occur with as few issues as possible. Used by community organizations and serves as a storm shelter.


Conducted a comprehensive daylight analysis and by way of siting, maximized daylight harvesting while mitigating solar gain. Highly efficient MEP systems, integrated lighting sensors and high performance glazing were chosen for longevity, adaptability and life-cycle costs. Research indicates students with views into nature and daylight exposure show improvement in test scores. A courtyard amphitheater provides greenspace and collaborative area. Retained historic oak trees on the site.


Teamed with the citizen’s task force, we delivered a quality product within a tight schedule and budget constraints. Met community and District requests for enhanced campus security, improved instructional technology, Wi-Fi, and off-site monitoring. Designed to act as a storm shelter, the cafetorium will accommodate citizens for extended periods of time with a standard emergency generator, augmented with a power transfer switch gear for portable power generation.


From the team-authored plan, we combined pedagogy and spatial functionality with the physical limitations on the tight site; successful phasing of this project depended on placement of the building. Restricted access to one side, a grove of large trees and an existing school that had to remain operational during construction, limited the area of the school. Student safety, noise control and traffic control during the school year was a priority. The project was fast-tracked during summer months.

School Transformation

This school is future-ready–a high degree of transparency allows for multiple uses and group interaction; niches for one-on-one teacher/student settings; and supervision from one end of the school to the other. The learning resource center supports digital learning. Two gyms, fine arts suite, commons and dining facilities provide space for circulation, collaborative areas, technology, security and off-hours use. The building transformed the culture of the school and surrounding community.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner