As construction nears completion, Austin HS looks to the future

For more than 80 years, the red-bricked Austin High School has been a mainstay in the Eastwood community. With construction nearing completion, the new school now strikes a balance of the past and present.

The $80.9 million project features modern classrooms, flexible learning spaces, and sound and lighting upgrades to the existing auditorium. The Art Deco-influenced façade also has been preserved and refurbished as a part of the project.

“This school has been here for more than 80 years. It was important to keep a part of this building that has been present in this community for so long,” Austin Principal Steve Guerrero said. “The entire building is just phenomenal. It feels very grand with lots of natural light. Every single part of the building is exciting.”

Austin is part of the 2012 Bond Program, which calls for the renovation or rebuilding of 40 schools, including 29 high schools. Once all construction is complete, HISD will have one of the most modern portfolios of urban high schools in the country.

Construction General Manager Andreas Peeples said the new construction is expected to receive all city inspections soon, with renovated buildings following suit in the next few weeks. The school is slated to open its doors to students in January 2021.

Landscaping in the front of the building is nearly complete, and the courtyard now has plaza paving, lighting, and landscaping. Inside, floors are being waxed and final details are being wrapped up.

“I’m excited about the progress being made at Austin High School,” Peeples said. “The facility is impressive, and it will provide students with new spaces to grow and thrive.”

Along with the preservation of historic elements, the project includes the construction of 184,000 square feet of new building, including gyms, a library, science labs, and spaces for the band and music programs.

New classrooms will be 30 percent larger, increasing from an average of 650 square feet to 850 square feet, while the science labs are doubling in size. The school also will have new landscaping and outdoor learning spaces.

Guerrero said the changes are welcome and the result of a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication.

“Everyone — from our custodial staff to our teachers and students to the construction team and staff — has been resilient through everything,” Guerrero said. “When we do open, it will be because of the hard work of every single person here.”

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