Clark Condon designs outdoor learning space for Kolter Elementary School’s newly constructed post-Harvey campus

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Clark Condon gives back

Kolter Elementary has been a pillar of the Meyerland community since it’s opening in 1960. Kolter Elementary was established over 60 years ago as a Foreign Language magnet school, offering classes in French, Spanish and Chinese in addition to traditional elementary school classes.

In 2003, the campus created an outdoor learning space to supplement lessons learned in the classroom. The outdoor learning environment included a vegetable garden, pond habitat, coastal prairie environment and other unique features. When Hurricane Harvey flooded Kolter Elementary school with more than four feet of water in 2017, the allocated reconstruction budget from HISD didn’t include funds to rebuild Kolter’s former award-winning outdoor learning areas.

The Kolter Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) was determined to rebuild the outdoor learning space and quickly formed the Kolter Grassroom Committee, who reached out to Clark Condon about partnering probono on this project. The team here at Clark Condon was eager to participate in this engaging community project.

Elizabeth Gilbert, one of our landscape architects and a principal with our firm is now helping Kolter take their concepts and create comprehensive plans that will capture the imagination of students, staff, and community alike. “Clark Condon is excited to help Kolter give the students this important connection with nature.  This community’s dedication to creating an interactive outdoor education space for the students is inspiring,” said Elizabeth Gilbert.

The Grassroom, will incorporate features from the original outdoor learning spaces including a garden, prairie, and pond. The new Grassroom will also include a new orchard, outdoor covered classroom, and butterfly garden and will also be wheelchair accessible.

Phase I of construction includes demolishing what remains of the original Kolter garden, laying the groundwork for the plumbing to support irrigation, creating amphitheater-shaped raised beds for the new vegetable garden, a fruit orchard, repairing and resurfacing the covered classroom under the existing pavilion, and creating accessible pathways. The team is hopeful that Phase I will be complete this Fall.

Learn more about this project and ongoing fundraising efforts here.

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