Austin HS undergoes demolition to make room for new facility

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Demolition is underway at Austin High School, where crews are working to bring down the back section of the building along South Lockwood Drive, making way for a new $79.6 million campus.

Asbestos abatement will be completed this month, and demolition already has been completed on the water tower, agriculture building, and workshop. The remainder of the demolition is expected to wrap up in June.

“It’s exciting to think of a new building two years from now,” Austin Principal Steve Guerrero said. “It’s a small sacrifice now, but well worth it.”

Located in Houston’s East End, the 80-year-old comprehensive high school is being rebuilt as part of the Houston Independent School District’s voter-approved 2012 Bond Program. Project plans call for a new facility that preserves the original architecturally significant building structure and can accommodate up to 2,000 students.

In Phase 1, Austin students and staff were relocated across South Lockwood to a Temporary Learning Center, where the school is being housed throughout construction. Phase 2 involves the abatement and demolition, and Phase 3, which will begin later this month, focuses on construction of the new facility.

After demolition is complete, crews will install underground utilities and foundations will beginning in the northwest corner of the site and progressing to the south. Renovation of the historic structure will take place at the same time.

The historic front of the façade of the school, which first opened in 1936, will be preserved and incorporated into the new modern facility. The existing auditorium also will get a makeover that includes sound and lighting upgrades.

Other design plans for the campus include bright, open spaces allowing for plenty of natural light, better traffic flow in and around the campus, modern classrooms, flexible learning spaces, and a new, secure main entrance off Jefferson Street.

Construction is expected to run through the fourth quarter of 2019.

“We’re looking forward to a community jewel in the future — a 21st century building the East End will be happy to have in the neighborhood,” Guerrero said.

Austin is among 40 schools, including 29 high schools, across the district being renovated or rebuilt as part of the district’s voter-approved 2012 Bond Program. More than half of all projects in the 2012 Bond Program are already complete and open to students. Once all projects are finished, HISD will boast of one of the most modern portfolios of urban high schools in the nation.

Follow @Build_HISD on Twitter for the latest updates on the 2012 Bond Program and school construction across the district.