Warrior and Family Support Center

Fort Sam Houston, Texas


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The Warrior and Family Support Center is a facility that was constructed for returning soldiers and their families at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. It has 12,140 square feet of conditioned space and over 5,000 square feet of covered exterior space. It was financed through donations to Returning Heroes Home, Inc., a nonprofit that was created for the purpose of building a facility for soldiers and their families that would promote healing and community. Huffman Developments, who developed and constructed the facility, led the effort in making the project happen. The facility includes a spacious living area, kitchen and dining area, an administration office, a learning center, and other various community spaces. It also includes a large covered patio, walkway, and gazebo as well as a landscaped courtyard and therapeutic gardens.


Design and Sustainability

5G Studio Collaborative was the architect for the Warrior Family Support Center.  This involved designing the building, producing the architectural construction documents, and handling the architectural scope for construction observation.  The Army required the project to be designed and constructed to LEED Silver standards, so 5G Studio’s scope also involved sustainable analysis such as solar heat gain studies and daylighting calculations.  The project was not registered through the USGBC, but the Army requested a signed LEED checklist as part of the submittal for the complete construction document package.

After the decision was made to use the LEED for New Construction Rating System (Version 2.2) for the project, the design team began analyzing what LEED credits would be pursued.  The team researched case studies of other LEED projects and looked at LEED cost analysis studies such as the credit-by-credit 2003 GSA Cost Index study.  The team prioritized credits that would have the most payback on direct cost savings for energy conservation and water conservation.  Particularly since the project was financed through charitable donations, the team was careful to only pursue credits that would not add excessive front-end cost to the budget.


(The landscaping is native/adapted, which minimizes irrigation demand )

The team wanted to minimize the environmental impact to the site from the new building and infrastructure.  Onsite parking is minimal so that the impervious surfaces that prohibit stormwater infiltration would be limited.  A shuttle bus service provides transportation around Fort Sam Houston for soldiers and their families, so the facility is easily accessible.  There is a high ratio onsite of vegetated open space to the development footprint, and a stormwater management plan for minimizing the quantity of stormwater runoff was implemented.  In order to reduce the heat island effect, trees provide shade for much of the site’s hardscape, the hardscape paving has a high solar reflectance index, and the standing seam metal roof also has a high solar reflectance index.  The landscaping consists of vegetation that is native or adapted to the region, and highly efficient irrigation equipment further reduces the irrigation demand.

04(Rendering of the Warrior and Family Support Center by 5G)

5G designed the building to have an energy-efficient building envelope.  The daylight-friendly U-shaped plan provides for every room, with the exception of support spaces, to have access to natural light and views to the exterior.  The windows are large, particularly along the north side of the building where solar heat gain is not an issue.  The corridors and rooms facing south and west along the courtyard also have large areas of glazing, but the roof extends past the exterior wall over twelve feet to cover the patio and shield the glazing from direct solar heat gain.  With the exception of the windows facing the covered patio, the west façade has a minimal amount of glazing in order to avoid glare and heat gain from the harsh afternoon sun.  Additional overhangs were added to the south façade to further avoid excessive heat gain.


The mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineer for the project was Telios, an engineering and consulting firm.  Telios designed the building to have an efficient HVAC system as well as efficient lighting.  The building envelope, mechanical systems, and lighting systems all work together to create a more energy efficient building.  For example, since the building has high levels of daylighting, less lighting can be used (particularly on sunny days), resulting in lower energy consumption and less heat generated from lighting, and then the HVAC system can contribute further to energy savings by using less energy to cool the building.  Telios performed energy modeling for the building, and the building was predicted to have a 14% improvement in energy cost savings over a baseline per ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2004.  Efficient plumbing fixtures reduce the water consumption by 30% as compared to a conventional baseline per the LEED Reference Guide.

The selection of sustainable materials was important to the project team.  The goal in the specification and purchasing of materials was to use materials that have a low embodied energy; these materials would give the building a lower carbon footprint by having a history of lower energy consumption through minimized travel, the inclusion of recycled content, and the reuse of materials from older buildings.  The wood trusses were reclaimed from a building that was demolished, and the wood flooring is also reclaimed.  Many of the materials have a high percentage of recycled content, and a large percentage of the materials and products were manufactured and extracted within a 500 mile radius of the project.



The opening ceremony for the Warrior and Family Support Center was on December 1, 2008.  Speakers at the ceremony included Judith Markelz, the program manager for WFSC, and Bob Woodruff, whose foundation donated $200,000 to Returning Heroes Home for the construction of the facility.  Many of the wounded soldiers who received treatment and support at the previous location of the WFSC attended the ceremony.  The facility was warmly received by the military leadership and administration at Fort Sam Houston.  5G Studio feels privileged to have been involved with this project, and we are excited to have been selected as the architect for the design-build team that will be constructing two new buildings adjacent to the Warrior and Family Support Center.  Both of these buildings will be sustainably designed and constructed, and they are registered with the USGBC under the LEED NC Version 2.2 Rating System.


Professional Services Provided:

- Architecture | Interiors

- Sustainability


Size: 5,000 SF

Opening: 2008