DeBakey HS community hears final design, construction plans

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Students and staff at DeBakey High School for Health Professions will soon have a new facility in the heart of the Texas Medical Center that will allow easier access to some of the best facilities in the world.

About 20 parents, staff and community members gathered Tuesday evening for a third meeting to go over design plans and the construction process and for a new five-level building.

DeBakey, currently located within the medical center neighborhood, is one of 40 schools throughout HISD that will be rebuilt or renovated under the $1.89 billion 2012 bond program. The high school is dedicated to providing a rigorous and comprehensive pre-college program for students pursuing careers in medicine, health care, and/or the sciences.

With the new campus, up to 1,000 students will be able to engage directly with the medical center and its resources and facilities. The school will move from its current campus at 3100 Shenandoah to just blocks away at W. Holcombe and Montclair Drive near the western edge of the Medical Center.

“We’ve all been working hard together to get to this point,” said Mary Le Johnson of WHR Architects. “We’ve been working on this project for about a year, and we are now in our last month of wrapping up documentation.”

A few of the project highlights for the new school include a dining commons area with natural lighting, administration offices’ wing, multipurpose space and college center with moveable furniture, all located on the first floor. The second, third and fourth floors will host classrooms, a library, and flexible learning neighborhoods that will house health science, dental, medical engineering and patient-care labs.

The top level of the facility will include the school’s gymnasium, along with a fitness area, black box, an art room, and music room to be used in conjunction with the Texas Medical Center Orchestra.

Read more about the project

With previous design concepts for a new DeBakey, Project Advisory Team members, parents and staff voiced concern with parent drop-off on campus. After traffic studies were conducted, architects were able to design two different locations for student drop-off, according to Johnson.

Due to limited ground space for the new site, architects were able to create green outdoor space on the top floor of the building and a terrace on each level.

“I really like the design; it seems perfect,” DeBakey parent Yali Zou said. “I feel so comfortable with the inside and its open space. It seems as if everyone has an open mind and is happy about the design process.”

Guy Cook of Tellespen Builders discussed the construction process and said although there were questions about exact start time of construction, his team wanted to reinforce that safety is the top priority during the building process, expected to be completed in mid- to late 2017.

DeBakey Principal Agnes E. Perry says she is pleased with the design and construction process and believes the new campus will be a great opportunity for students, teachers and staff.

“Being closer in the Medical Center where students will have easier access to not only institutions, but also the medical professions who will hopefully come and present to our students during the day,” Perry said. “It will be much easier for them to do that.”