New Furr HS to Showcase 21st Century Learning Spaces

Instead of a projector, students and teachers at the new Furr High School will showcase their lessons on an interactive technology wall with an embedded LED screen and glass panel that can easily be written on.

“This will not just be a space that sits there for someone to look at,” said architect Eli Ochoa, who gave a presentation on the design of the new campus to about 70 students, faculty and neighbors at a community meeting Tuesday at the school. “This site will be very interactive.”

The event was part of a series of gatherings for the first group of schools slated for construction within HISD’s 2012 $1.89 billion bond program, which will build or renovate 40 schools across the district.

The goal of the meeting is for each school’s Project Advisory Team (PAT) to present the work done so far in the planning and design process of the new campus and to gather additional feedback to help guide the final design drawings. Attendees at the Furr meeting were able to see a design model of the residential neighborhood so they could see how it interacts with the school campus.

The new 182,000-square-foot, three-story building is being designed to enhance Furr’s science, technology, engineering and arts program, and will include flexible, brightly colored learning areas that can be adjusted through moveable furniture and sliding glass doors.

“We don’t want the students to feel like they’re in a cave,” said Ochoa. “We want to centralize this campus, so that we can have a better site with better student interaction.”

At the community meeting, attendees asked about the timeline of construction for the new school, which is scheduled to break ground by late 2014. They also inquired about the location of academic programs and road access to the school, which architects are planning to improve by adding a second way in and out of the campus.

Like all the schools within the 2012 bond program, Furr will be built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards for sustainable facilities.

“I like that the campus will have more natural light, and that they’re considering letting artists paint a mural on the outside of the school,” said Furr junior Keondre Osborne, a member of the school’s PAT. “It’s been fun going to the Project Advisory Team meetings and having a voice. We get to add input and collaborate with schools to better our community.”

Furr Principal Bertie Simmons wants the new campus to be a home away from home for students and parents.

“Our students have very few safe places where they can go to enrich their lives,” Simmons said. “We want this school to be a gathering place where students, parents and the community can learn and grow together.”