YWCPA stakeholders briefed on initial design plans for renovated school

One of HISD’s oldest school buildings is undergoing a $27.1 million makeover that will preserve its historic past while integrating modern learning spaces designed to prepare students for the future.

“This is a magnificent building,” said Architect Carolina Weitzman during a community meeting Tuesday at the Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy, located at 1906 Cleburne. “It’s got great bones.”

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Weitzman, of Natex Architects, gave the 40 community members who attended the gathering a walk-through of the all-girls secondary school, slated to receive a new addition and general renovations under HISD’s bond program.

More information on the YWCPA project

The three-story brick building, erected in 1925, is a stately presence in Houston’s historic Third Ward, with a prominent entrance on a tree-lined street. The proposal includes adding a circular drive to the front of the building with a covered pick-up/drop-off area. The administrative offices, now on the second floor, would be relocated near the building’s main entrance, where a secure vestibule would be added.

Much of the interior renovation will focus on modernizing the classroom spaces into larger learning centers with better natural light, integrated technology and flexible furniture. An addition is slated to be built adjacent to the current auditorium, and would feature an atrium and flexible spaces to create a college-like and collaborative atmosphere for the students.

“We don’t want to do anything that detracts from the building,” Weitzman said.

To improve traffic flow, buses would have a separate entrance at the rear with a covered pick-up/drop-off area. Parking would be increased to include a separate area for student vehicles.

“I love it, I couldn’t ask for anything more,’ said Jose Ivarra, who came out to the meeting with his wife Maria and daughter, Hattie, who will be an eighth-grader at YWCPA this year. He was especially pleased with the atrium and covered entry.

Jayde Stewart, an incoming seventh-grader, is an avid reader and said the extended learning areas would provide a lot of opportunities to study and work. She said the design is “really cool, fresh, clean and modern.”

Neighbor Lisa Lipscomb, who tutors an incoming sixth-grader, was pleased to hear that the proposed design won’t destroy the building’s unique facade. She also received assurances from the architectural team that work on the school will to minimize damage to trees.

As a member of the Museum Park Neighborhood Association, Lipscomb said she hopes the project will help build neighborhood support of the school and encourage more people to volunteer. “We think so much of this building,” she said.

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