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2018 MCHAP

The Lamplighter School Innovation Lab

Marlon Blackwell Architects

Dallas, TX, USA

September 2017


Marlon Blackwell


RLG Consulting Engineers (Structural + Civil ) Reed, Wells, Benson & Company Consulting Engineers (Mechanical, Plumbing, Electrical) Talley Associates (Landscape Architect) Essential Light Design Studio (Lighting) Terracon Consultants, Inc. (Geotechnical)


The Lamplighter School


Timothy Hursley William Burks


Careful consideration of the Innovation Lab’s siting, program relationships, and materials result in a flexible, lasting facility that will benefit the School for several generations. The School desired a new facility that would improve campus connectivity while establishing a 21st Century identity for the school. The building knits carefully into the campus, framing outdoor play areas to the north and providing an anchor to the village of buildings along the west edge of the site. The dynamic structure creates spatial connections with the School’s existing facilities to the east and establishes several outdoor teaching environments along its southern edge. The exterior skin of copper - 8” vertical wall panels with 16” standing seam roof panels – provides a long lasting, low maintenance envelope for the timeless building. The School required a building that could house their specialty programs, including robotics, makerspaces, and science curriculum. The Innovation Lab provides open, flexible spaces that can be used by multiple grade levels simultaneously. The classrooms and project labs are organized along a single, generous corridor, which branches into large shared teaching spaces. The building provides a rich learning environment, filled with natural daylight and lined with undulating wood walls and cypress plank ceilings, for students to experiment and explore through the School’s project based learning curriculum.


The new Innovation Lab at The Lamplighter School is a hands-on learning environment created to serve the school’s 450 Pre-K through 4th grade students. Sited on the western edge of the Lamplighter School’s O’Neil Ford designed campus, the new building redefines the boundaries of the campus, and compliments the architectural language of the existing campus while establishing its own identity. Three entry porches extend spatial connections with the school’s current facilities and link the Lab to the barn and greenhouse, creative play areas, as well as the Bachmann Branch creek. Designed specifically for this place and climate, the Lab is entered through deep porches that provide cooling shade and protection for the large areas of glass that connect the classrooms to the landscape. The exterior roof pitches and rolls creating resonance with the shed roofs of the existing campus while creating a new architectural language. The wood soffit from the exterior continues through the interior, extending the formal articulation of the exterior throughout. The interior finish along the exterior walls is a varied poplar wood wall, creating a resilient and durable surface that responds to the architectural language and the program of hands on learning and experimentation. Skylights provide an addition means of delineating spatial variations through light and views.


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