Young Women’s College Prep community hears update on plans for historic campus

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Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy, among HISD’s oldest school buildings, will undergo a $27.1 million renovation/addition that will expand learning spaces throughout the current building and add modern science and technology labs to enhance STEM curriculum.

Plans are in place to preserve much of the historic building, as well as the facade, and transform what now are three separate buildings into one cohesive structure.

“We’re really taking this beautiful building and making it what it needs to be for the girls,” said Natex architect Carolina Weitzman during a community meeting on Tuesday night. “We’re starting with a beautiful structure.”

The nearly 25 people who attended the meeting got an update on plans for the all-girls secondary school, slated to begin construction this summer and to be completed by fall 2017.

The three-story brick building, erected in 1925, is a historic presence in Houston’s Third Ward, with a prominent entrance on Cleburne Street and Peggy Park adjacent to the campus. The proposal includes adding a circular drive to the front of the building with a covered pick-up/drop-off area that would also incorporate visitor parking. 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, connected by a student-union-style atrium.

YWCPA 11th-grader Fanny Ramirez said she particularly appreciates the design of the atrium, which will include areas for collaboration and to plug in technology.

“It would be a really interesting place,” Fanny said. “When I want to talk to my friends about projects, I normally just stand by my locker to talk them. But it would be nice to have a place to gather together.”

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.

“Being that we’re a STEM school in a building that’s 90 years old, having the ability to have a say in the design to best meet the needs of our students has been truly enjoyable, said YWCPA Principal Delesa Thomas.