Project teams for Kashmere, Scarborough and Westbury work on design ideas

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Project Advisory Team members, along with architects and facilities planners for Kashmere, Scarborough and Westbury high schools, spent two days this week working on initial design plans for their campus renovations.

As part of HISD’s bond program, each of these schools will be redesigned as 21st century facilities through additions and renovations to the existing buildings.

“The charrettes are a great way to get buy-in and input from our stakeholders,” said Kedrick Wright, HISD Senior Manager of Facilities Planning. “We know the overall mission and scope of the project, and today we’re working out some of the nuts and bolts.”

The French term charrette often is used in the architectural community to mean an intensive group work session. HISD uses charrettes to bring all the members of each school’s project team together to hash out the needs and desires for a new campus design.

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The three schools participating in this charrette were grouped together since they are receiving additions and extensive renovations, rather than completely new schools.

“We’ve found that it’s beneficial to coordinate efforts like this and bring together groups who are working on similar projects,” said Wright, from the Houston Food Bank where the groups were meeting. “This way the teams can see what other schools are considering and give feedback to each other.”

The Westbury team narrowed their ideas down to two “schemes” and listed the pros and cons of each option. Discussion included where to locate the cafeteria in relation to the new classroom wing, traffic flow, and considering the possibility of future expansion.

The Scarborough team plans to design the school to have a collegiate feel, emphasize project-based and linked learning, and to prominently feature the school’s award-winning JROTC.

“Our JROTC program is very strong, with about 25 percent of our students participating – I think it’s the best in the district,” said Scarborough Principal Diego Linares. “We are excited to give them their own building.”

Kashmere’s team is focused on incorporating their guiding principles into the school’s design and want the campus to be flexible and adaptable, have a strong community presence and to be safe and secure. They are planning to better define the front entrance of the facility and to incorporate plenty of natural light and extended learning areas throughout.

Each school’s architects will take the information gathered from the Charrette and put together initial designs for the PATs to review and tweak further. Stakeholders will have the opportunity to view the designs and hear from team members and project architects at an upcoming community meeting.