Austin HS and Sam Houston MSTC project teams meet to design new schools

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Project Advisory Teams from Austin HS and Sam Houston MSTC attended a charrette, or intensive workshop, where they collaborated on preliminary design plans for their new schools.

Each school’s project team – along with architects, facilities planners and project managers – spent the two-day session focused on how to design a 21st century school that will incorporate the needs of students, teachers and other stakeholders while creating an engaging learning environment.

“We want to build a school that’s a place students want to be – not that they are forced to be,” said Houston MSTC student and PAT member Jesus Perales. “We have so many amazing programs but not many people know about them. We want to show the community what we have to offer and the good things happening at our school.”

Both schools have strong student participation on their PATs, and many of their ideas are being incorporated into the design plans.

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Austin High School is located in Houston’s East End. The campus features a magnet program in the teaching professions and an innovative maritime CTE program. The new facility will preserve the architecturally significant building structure with renovations and an addition to accommodate 1,800 – 2,000 students.

“There are many parts of the building we want to maintain – student artwork on the walls, our courtyard, the front facade – these are important areas of our school, a legacy for students that we want to keep,” said Tanea Ramon, Austin HS student and PAT member. We want to honor our history and diverse culture, but also make way for new traditions that will come along.”

Sam Houston Math, Science & Technology Center was built in 1934 in north Houston and is one of HISD’s largest comprehensive high schools. Over the years, the school has undergone several renovations, most recently the addition of a new science and laboratory building to support the school’s mission to prepare students for college and careers. The new school will incorporate a new science classroom and laboratory wing to accommodate up to 2,750 students.

The Houston MSTC PAT plans to tailor a design that integrates transparency and provides opportunities for students to connect with each other and the community. It will feature a large open courtyard with plenty of windows to provide natural light, several learning commons areas, and an innovation commons enhanced with technology upgrades.

Security and better defined main entries and exits are important to both schools, because there are currently multiple entry-points at each location. Both schools will also be designed to have a collegiate feel, and incorporate 21st century features such as, flexible learning spaces, natural light, and state-of-the-art technology.

“The input from these students has been invaluable,” said Eli Ochoa, architect for the Austin HS project. They are not afraid to speak up, and our team has been inspired by the insights they have offered.”

The PATs will continue to meet monthly over the summer and refine the design plans. Next fall each school will host a community meeting for PAT members to present the design plans to stakeholders.

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