Houston-area architecture firm PBK helps Uvalde CISD make schools safer

HOUSTON – A local architecture firm is working to help Uvalde CISD make his schools safer.

PBK Architects Inc. has been designing schools for over 40 years and is the industry leader in safety and school design.

In 2018, PBK created a coalition of top school safety experts, including dozens of school district police chiefs and law enforcement officials from across the state. Together, they compiled a list of “best practices” in school design.

When CISD Uvalde asked for help, PBK answered the call and visited CISD Uvalde, offering their analysis and design to help.

“We were asked to participate with Uvalde CISD in reviewing their campuses to explore additional security features they might want to consider,” said Ian Powell, managing partner of PBK. “We were so humbled and gratified that they saw us as the people to call.”

KPRC2 first spoke to PBK in 2018 when PBK led efforts to create action and dialogue following a series of school shootings. PBK then launched the Texas School Safety and Security Council, made up of dozens of school district police chiefs and law enforcement officials who came together to discuss and brainstorm with PBK and come up with a specific roster.

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“To build best practices for school design and safety,” Powell said.

When the Uvalde CISD tragedy occurred, PBK did not hesitate to share what they had learned and offer their services.

“We shared with them what we call the ’32 Best Practices,’ developed by school police chiefs,” Powell said.

Just last week, Powell and PBK visited CISD in Uvalde to assess what more the district can do.

“We visited seven schools that day, interviewed some people to ask about vulnerabilities and circumstances that they would work on, if they could, and then formed our own impressions of parts of the campuses,” Powell said. .

PBK provides its analysis free of charge. They said building safe schools was their passion and helping out in times of need was simply the right thing to do. Many buildings in Uvalde are between 40 and 60 years old.

“Most of them have eight to 10 separate classroom wings and the doors open to the outside,” Powell said. “You’re trying to protect four buildings, not the perimeter of one building.”

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Powell said it all depends on the intentional design and use of factors such as the layout of the school, what school staff will be able to see and how long it would take for the intruder to get away. move and to the police to react.

“Reduce the time law enforcement has to respond and extend the perpetrator’s time before they can do damage,” Powell explained.

Powell said PBK will do everything in their power to help Uvalde CISD. PBK said he ultimately hopes to help schools achieve something very important.

“A safe and welcoming school district and facilities in the future,” Powell said. “Increase the toolbox of solutions they can implement.”

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Michael J. Chiaramonte