Architects presented design renderings and 3D images of the new High School for Performing and Visual Arts Thursday at a community meeting that provided a more detailed site plan of the five-story facility.
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“With every week, this gets more exciting and a little more real,” said HSPVA Principal Scott Allen. “We’re at a point now where we know our dance department will be on the third floor, and music will be on the fourth and fifth floor. We’re still tweaking the design, but at least we know where each department will be located in the building.”
The project’s second community meeting drew about 40 parents, students, stakeholders and community members. Architects are aiming to complete the schematic design process in a few weeks and are currently working with structural engineers to develop a plan on how to fit the building structure to the architecture.
HSPVA is one of 40 high schools that will be rebuilt and renovated with funds from HISD’s 2012 $1.89 billion bond program. Construction on the $48 million project is scheduled to begin in late 2014, and the building process will take about two and a half years.
The new school will be located in downtown Houston between Caroline and Austin streets near the city’s renowned arts and theater district. The building’s entrance, which will most likely be off of Austin Street, will feature double high glass windows and a wide stairwell with seating nooks for students.
“I really like how the building will encourage students to walk throughout the facility and not depend on the elevator,” said Carolyn Landen, a member of HSPVA Friends, a nonprofit organization that provides support for current and future HSPVA students.
The building’s ground floor will include a lobby, administrative offices, an open dining area and a main theater. A mini-theater along with a recital hall, black box, art gallery, recording studio, and some learning commons will be housed on the second floor.
“Many of the spaces that will have a lot of public interaction will be located on the second floor,” said architect Lester Yuen of Gensler, the firm designing the new HSPVA. “This will be a very vibrant floor.”
Dance studios, a control room, and main administrative offices will be located on the third floor. The fourth floor and fifth floors will feature wet labs, a dining space, and learning areas that will be aligned along the windows, giving students a view of the city. Music rooms will be located on the fourth and fifth floors. On the fifth floor, which will house the visual arts department, students will have access to a roof terrace, outdoor learning areas, jazz music rooms, and ceramic and sculpture work rooms.
“I’m impressed by the design,” said HSPVA student William Sommer. “The building looks like it will be more energetic. I like how the space will force students to interact with different art areas and have glass walls to allow them to see into rooms like the dance studio.”
HSPVA teacher Marc Duncan says the new facility will be a resource in teaching young professionals how to thrive in an arts environment and global economy. “I think the best thing we have here is finally enough room to support the educational needs of all our students.”
I’m so glad they’re moving forward with this plan, but I hope they are including an elevator. Transporting large scale art projects and supplies from home to school and back again really will be impossible on stairs.