YES Prep Flood Protection



Winning Team

Charlie Penland
Keith Gaynor
Ray Drexler
Aracely Martinez

YES Prep Flood Protection


When YES Prep, a Houston public charter school, purchased an existing commercial office building to house their Yorktown campus, they were initially unaware that repurposing the building from commercial to institutional would change their requirements for flood protection.

The facility met the floodplain development criteria as an office building, but since it was being renovated as a school, it had to meet City criteria for a “critical” facility. The building was about 14 inches shy of meeting that requirement, so YES Prep's initial plans to renovate the space into a school were rejected by the floodplain management office.

With renovations stalled and an opening date that wasn’t flexible, YES Prep’s Director of Operations contacted Walter P Moore for guidance. Experts from our Civil, Water Resources, and Diagnostics groups teamed up with Element Architects to quickly evaluate the conditions and devise a flood protection solution that was elegant, simple, and cost-efficient to implement.

The solution included a combination of both active and passive measures for the campus. The new flood protection system consists of an 18” poured concrete curb within the wall cavity around the entire structure (passive element) and an overhead “drop-down gate” system (active element) designed to meet YES Prep’s unique campus needs while preserving aesthetics of the updated building.

Active measures are systems that require human intervention or power to operate and need sufficient warning time to mobilize and implement. The drop-down flood gate is considered an active protection measure. Passive measures do not require any human intervention, and because of this, can be thought of as 24/7 flood protection. The new curb wall meets the definition of passive protection.

Walter P Moore worked closely with PS Flood Barriers to design and fabricate the overhead door system to be unobtrusive and easy to deploy and operate. The “gate” is a flood log that is attached to a guiderail concealed within the door jam. The “gate,” when open, is hidden above the ceiling. You can’t tell it is there unless you already know about it. The doors are deployed manually with a hand crank, similar to a tire iron. Because they are manually operated, the doors can still be operational in the event of a power outage. This custom, one-of-a-kind design is a good example of innovative, low-impact flood mitigation.

Related / Getting Schooled: Floodproofing Existing Structures for Increased Resilience