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Dowling Middle School held its second community meeting on Tuesday evening to brief stakeholders on the design process for a 21st century learning environment, which is being built under the district’s 2012 bond program.
Harrison Kornberg Architects presented updated designs and a site plan nearly 30 attendees at the meeting. The $59.1 million new campus, located in the south Houston, will be built for 1,300 to 1,500 students on fields adjacent to the school and will retain its main entrance on Stancliff Street. Construction is slated to begin in late 2015.
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Dowling currently serves students in grades 6 through 8 in south Houston and offers a fine arts magnet program. The main building at the school was constructed in 1966, and currently the campus utilizes 17 temporary buildings.
“Having a brand-new, state-of-the-art school would be a huge boon to the community,” architect Daniel Kornberg said. “Everyone in the PAT has really been expressing how, although they love the current building’s history and want to carry it forward, they really want to see something that expresses the vibrancy of this neighborhood and commitment of the people to the future.”
The design features for the new building include a three-story academic building, a fine arts building, dining commons and gym. A large secure courtyard area will be located at the center of the school for students to gather throughout the day and be used for casual learning. In addition, a state-of-the-art black box theatre located in the fine arts building will accommodate multipurpose use.
“The theater arts program is very important to this community and they were insistent on having a state-of-the-art theater space, so we’ve incorporated that at the very front as the heart of the school,” Kornberg said.
Attendees were able to view 3D drawings of the school and included a detailed layout of the academic building, which will be designated per grade level on each floor and will include outdoor courtyard space between each wing. The design also includes an update for a new bus lane drop-off area on Buxley Street to help alleviate bus and car traffic.
Dowling Principal Tynette Guinn said when designing the school, it was very important to consider an institution to accommodate students for many years to come.
“The 21st century learning styles of the kids will actually change with the common spaces and learning areas, creating more lighting in the building,” she said. “We are really excited about what we have to offer and what we have been designing for the past 2 ½ years.”
HISD Trustee Wanda Adams also attended the meeting and said that in order to lay the foundation for a brand new Dowling, it is necessary for parents and community members to attend meetings and engage in the design process.
“We need to hear what the parents say and get their input because if they don’t, we don’t necessarily know what they envision for the future,” Adams said. “This is one of the opportunities to see your tax dollars at work for new schools and programming, so we need your voice. Most of all, we need your presence here so we can continue to move our schools forward to have a better product, and that’s what we’re expecting right here at this school.”