HISD Forms New Committee to Guide 21st Century School Design Under 2012 Bond

13-member expert panel will address educational, technology, environmental needs

HISD has set up a new committee of Houston-area architects, educators, engineers, futurists, lawyers, and building experts to help advise the district on project team selection, facility planning, and design as it moves forward with the 2012 bond program to build or renovate 40 schools.

“Our goal is to ensure we have the best quality bond program possible,” said Dan Bankhead, general manager of facility design. “By creating this committee, we have assembled a notable group of innovative thinkers, creative problem-solvers, and industry leaders to assist us and provide invaluable advice during the planning and design process.”

The 21st Century Schools Advisory Committee meets monthly and so far includes 13 members. They will work with HISD to support the district’s goal of utilizing an integrated and multi-discipline approach in designing 21st century learning environments for students and teachers, Bankhead said.

Among the issues the committee will advise on are building and educational program needs, technology infrastructure considerations, facility design for modern learning, community engagement, future trends in education, and environmental sustainability.

“The 2012 bond program gives us the opportunity to really transform education in Houston for generations to come,” said Leo Bobadilla, HISD chief operating officer. “These experts will help ensure we create schools that bring us into the 21st century.”

Among the committee members is Peter Bishop, associate professor of strategic foresight and director of the graduate program in Futures Studies at the University of Houston.  Shortly after voters approved the $1.89 billion building program, Bishop helped lead a half-day symposium for the district in December to get principals and community members to start thinking about planning schools for the future.

Bishop said he is excited to be part of the 21st Century School Advisory Committee as the bond program gets into the work of designing and building the schools for future generations of students. The bond program will also fund renovations to middle school restrooms, upgrades to safety, security and technology, and improve district athletic facilities.

“The Houston Independent School District is beginning its massive initiative to rebuild schools, not with talking about buildings, but with talk about learning,” he said. “Given the size of the investment in these schools over the next five years, Houston could be leading the nation in redesigning the learning environment for millions of children across the country for the rest of this century.”

Other members of the 21st Century Schools committee include:

  • Nathan Bailey, board member, Texas Gulf Coast Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council
  • Rusty Bienvenue, executive director, Houston Chapter of the American Institute of Architects
  • Charles Browne, president, Houston Chapter of the American Institute of Architects
  • Geoffrey Brune, professor/IDP coordinator, University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture
  • Dawn Finley, associate professor, Rice University School of Architecture
  • Barry Norwood, associate professor/director of C.U.R.E. Service Center, Prairie View A&M University School of Architecture
  • John Okello, visiting assistant professor, Prairie View A&M University School of Architecture
  • Carlos G. Price, clinical assistant professor, University of Houston Clear Lake School of Education
  • Ronnie Self, associate professor, University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture
  • Ty Stranger-Thorsen, chairperson of the Texas Gulf Coast USGBC Chapter’s Green Schools Initiative
  • Bruce Webb, professor/coordinator Level II Design, Univ. of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture
  • Ron Witte, associate professor, Rice University School of Architecture

The District hopes to add more members, especially from the elementary and secondary educational arena, in the next couple of weeks.  The committee meets the last Tuesday of every month at HISD’s Construction and Facility Services (CFS) Headquarters, 3200 Center St., Houston, Texas 77007.