Project Advisory Team, Architects Brainstorm on a New Milby HS

In talking about the future of Milby High School on Wednesday, students and members of the school’s Project Advisory Team spent just as much time reflecting on the historic high school’s past and traditions.

“There is a lot of pride and connection with the school,” said Colley Hodges, an architect at Kirksey, which is working to design a new facility for Milby that preserves the century-old school’s architecturally significant building structure. “There’s a lot of incentive for maintaining the historical fabric of the school.”

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Hodges was part of the Kirksey design team that spent an afternoon with Milby students, teachers, administrators and alumni to help the group envision what the new school should be. Milby is one of 40 schools slated to be renovated or built under the 2012 bond program and is currently in the planning and design process.

The goal of Wednesday’s special session was to help build consensus among the Project Advisory Team, which has been meeting over the past several months to help figure out space and educational programming needs at the school, which currently enrolls nearly 2,000 students in Houston’s East End.

The two-hour session at Kirksey’s office off I-10 and Old Katy Road included fun games, such as coming up with words and images to describe different aspirations for the new school.

Candiss Drexler, a teacher at the school, explained why her group selected the word “epic.” “We want Milby to stand out,” she said.

The school is already well-known for its history. In 2012, the Houston Press ranked Milby as the fourth most architecturally beautiful high school campus in greater Houston. The school, which originally cost $180,000 to build, opened to students in 1926.

While preserving the school’s traditions, members of the school’s PAT said they wanted the new facility to include more green space and to strengthen its connection with the surrounding neighborhood.

Milby High School Senior Jacqueline Laurenzana said the afternoon was well spent. “It’s been helpful because we all get to collaborate and form all of our ideas into one big idea,” she said.