Members of the Furr High School community gathered Thursday evening at the school for a presentation on the construction process and final design plans for a new school being built under HISD’s 2012 bond program.
In a third community meeting before construction begins, the nearly 100 in attendance were given an overview of the project and had the opportunity to hear directly from the architect, project manager, and general contractor.
The campus currently includes nine school buildings and 15 temporary buildings. The new 182,000-square-foot, three-story building has been 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.
“I am thrilled with the design and so are the students,” said Furr Principal Bertie Simmons. “The architects and the whole team have been great to work with. They listened to suggestions, not just from me, but also from our students, and tried to implement them whenever possible.”
Through HISD’s 2012 bond program, $55.1 million has been allocated to build the new Furr HS. Students will remain in the current building while the new building is erected on the adjacent athletic fields. Once the new building is complete, the current building will be demolished and new athletic fields will be built on that site.
“This has been a great project for us, a real collaborative effort,” said architect Eli Ochoa of ERO Architects. “Students have been vital to the design process. They’ve given us really good information on what they’d like to see in their school.”
Attendees were interested in learning more about the green spaces and the environmentally friendly aspects of the new building. Like all schools in the 2012 bond program, Furr will be built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards for sustainable facilities.
Some neighbors expressed concern about the asbestos abatement issues in the current building.
“Safety is our number one priority in construction and in demolition,” said HISD Program Manager Sonny Fletcher, who is overseeing the project for the district. “We have a whole process in place to ensure safety during abatement. We will have air-monitoring equipment, both upwind and downwind. We take this seriously and follow a strict protocol to ensure the safety of everyone involved.”
Furr HS parent Claudia Lopez attended the meeting with her three children and was impressed with the plans.
“I’m excited for the new building – our community needs something new,” Lopez said. “This will be a good thing, not just for my kids, but for the whole neighborhood.”
Construction on the new building is scheduled to start in December of this year and to be completed in the summer of 2016. Demolition of the current building and construction of the new athletic fields are expected to be complete in the fall of 2016.