Austin HS prepares for start of construction

Construction crews at Austin High School spent much of the summer working to complete demolition, abatement, and underground site work in preparation for the start of construction on their new building.

While significant progress was made, the project encountered some hurdles. City of Houston permitting procedures changed and now require additional documents and information to be submitted. Additionally, asbestos removal took longer than anticipated.

To accommodate the additional time needed to procure the permit and safely remove hazardous materials from the construction site, school and project officials have updated the construction timeline. The school is now scheduled to will move into its new facility in summer 2020, with students and staff returning for the 2020-2021 school year.

“We worked every possible angle to meet the new requirements without an impact to the schedule,” Heery International Senior Program Manager Gary Whittle said. “Some things are beyond our control, but we are confident we will complete the Austin project with no changes to the revised timeline.”

Located in Houston’s East End neighborhood, 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 $79.6 million facility that preserves the original architecturally significant building structure and can accommodate up to 2,000 students.

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

Austin students and staff have relocated across South Lockwood to a temporary learning center for the duration of construction.

“It was bittersweet to see the old building coming down because it served generations of Houstonians and the East End very well,” Austin Principal Steve Guerrero said. “We’re eager to see our new 21st century campus begin to take shape.”

All major structures set for removal at Austin High School have been demolished, and work on site excavation, building pads, and additional abatement is underway.

Underground electrical and plumbing installation is in progress and will be completed in late October. Installation of underground foundations, including piers and grade beams, began in late August and will continue through the end of the year.

Later this fall, crews will begin building beds and forms for tilt wall panels, which are concrete walls that will be poured on the ground and then lifted and placed in position by a crane.

Austin is among 40 schools, including 29 high schools, being rebuilt or renovated as part of HISD’s 2012 Bond Program. More than 70 percent of all 2012 Bond projects are complete, and that number is expected to top 80 percent by the end of 2018.

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