Lee HS students add life to architects’ designs for new school

As architects design a new 21st century Lee High School, they are thinking about flexible learning spaces, integrated technology and increased light. But getting students involved in the design process is providing the school’s identity.

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“Our students are very creative, very responsive to their own education and they want to make sure that the new building allows for that creativity and those leadership skills to develop,” said Lee High School Principal Monica Quintero.

About 25 people attended Lee’s second community meeting Thursday on design progress. HISD is holding community meetings to obtain feedback from parents and neighbors to help guide the final design drawings for schools being rebuilt under the 2012 bond program.

Two current Lee High School students and members of the school’s Project Advisory Team, Marcelin Kamdoum and Gilbert Sosa, told the crowd about their efforts to create a school that would be adaptable to the future, make students excited to learn, and put them on the track to college and career readiness.

“We want students to come through those doors and feel like they want to be here – like the school is just for them,” Sosa said, adding that the school’s culture is an important component.

The school, located at 6529 Beverly Hill Lane in west Houston, was built in 1962. A new $73.8 million school for 1,700 to 1,900 students is being built, with construction set to begin by the end of this year. The campus is in the process of expanding and the finished facility will be 266,000 square feet.

WHR Architects, which is working in partnership with Lake Flato Architects, presented schematic drawings that encompassed a two-story building with four “neighborhoods” that stem off of the school’s Career and Technical Education programs.

There is a large, naturally lighted dining commons area near the main entrance and three big open courtyards. The design includes an athletic quadrant with fields, gymnasia, a natatorium and locker rooms.

Gregg Kalba, project manager with WHR, presented the site plan for the new Lee High school and pointed out how the current building has been continuously added on to over the decades.

“The school has evolved as the neighborhood has evolved,” Kalba said. “Now we have a chance to regroup, rethink and come up with a school that reflects the spirit of the times.”