First wall goes up at new Milby High School

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The construction work at Milby High School took a major step forward on Thursday when workers lifted the first wall of the new school.

“It’s really a ballet,” said HISD’s Project Manager Mark Crippen. “Once the first wall is up, it just keeps going. That crane can’t stop.”

Milby is among 40 HISD schools being renovated or rebuilt as part of the district’s $1.89 billion bond program. The 267,000 square foot project is a combination of new construction and renovation. The school will maintain its historical façade along Broadway in Houston’s East End, while creating a modern learning environment for up to 2,000 students.

HISD Trustee Manuel Rodriguez was among a handful of spectators who turned out Thursday to witness the 48-foot tilt wall panel being pulled up into place with the help of a 260-ton crane and at least eight workers in charge of a complex rigging and bracing system.

“This is the beginning of a new day,” Rodriguez said. “So far, it’s looking good. We have to pray that the weather holds so we can get this done.”

The first wall going up is a milestone for the project, which is being constructed by Tellepsen. For months, the focus has been on abating and demolishing a major portion of the old building, followed by underground work and the laying of the foundation. By next week, some 45 panels will be in place, and the new structure will quickly take shape as steel goes up in the coming weeks.

“Once people see these walls going up, we’ll be able to convince them there is a work going on,” Rodriguez said.

Milby Principal Roy de la Garza also watched the progress on Thursday, and said there is a lot of anticipation for the new building, slated to open for the 2017-2018 school year.

Designed by Kirksey Architecture, the first level of the school will include administrative offices, a library, an auditorium with a black box, and a student union that opens up to a large dining commons area where students can meet for lunch or study in groups. A large courtyard behind the dining area will allow students to easily go outside for lunch, club meetings and gather before and after school.

Three-story academic wings to the north and south of the building will include learning spaces for science and engineering labs, welding and culinary arts with a student-run café. A print shop in the career technical education area will provide students with real job experience. Performing and visual arts learning areas and athletic spaces will be located on the back end of the campus.

Tellepsen Project Manager Brian Mahoney said the construction is being staged and phased to ensure there is always work on different aspects of the project. “It’s just a continuous rolling thing,” he said.