RdlR Architects

RdlR Architects

Houston, TX


Carnegie Vanguard High School

Carnegie Vanguard High School was designed by RdlR Architects with the notion of “School as an Interactive Place for Talent Development and Support to the Act of Learning”. Through Carnegie’s history, it has been consistently one of the two top performing schools in HISD, even though it has not had a suitable facility for its students. This vanguard school for the Gifted and Talented will finally have a facility specifically designed to support its educational mission. The project Design

Objectives are:
• Create a Collegiate Environment that Supports the Emphasis on Creativity and Innovation
• Provide an Interactive Environment
• Link Indoor and Outdoor Spaces
• Overtly Demonstrate Good Stewardship of theEnvironment and Energy Conservation
• Integrate Sound Urban Design Principles in theCampus Development

Urban Design
The school building is sited close to the street edge engaging an existing historic building which was re-purposed as the fine arts complex for the school. The building turns the corner, at the two major streets that it faces, with a symbolic architectural expressive statement of the library as a “House of Learning”. To maximize the open space in this tight urban site, the student and faculty parking is provided in a two-level parking structure between the two schools in a way that both schools can share parking at individual peak periods of use.

The architecture of this school was developed to support the nature of an interactive educational process for the gifted and talented. Students will have the opportunity to learn in multiple ways and in varied interactive spaces ranging from flexible classrooms, to outdoor classrooms on roof tops, adjacent to green roof gardens overlooking Houston’s downtown skyline. The school building provides a variety of engaging environments that can be used for academic or social purposes throughout the day.

The school’s green space provides much needed recreational area not only for the school students but for the surrounding urban community. A collaborative agreement was developed between the Houston Independent School District, the City of Houston, and the Fourth Ward Management District, for the use of the school’s green space. To expand the urban open space in the tightly developed adjacent Fourth Ward community, the sports fields were located directly across the street from an existing small pocket park, and will contain baseball, soccer, and sandlot volleyball fields. Tennis courts are also provided on the top deck of the parking garage.

The school is developed around two courtyards which provide the heart of the campus. The main courtyard is designed for students to congregate or contemplate in individual, small, or large groups. The second court is developed as an amphitheatre and outdoor dining area. This area engages the existing historic Settegast building into the campus and provides a backdrop to the outdoor stage of the amphitheatre.

The two story facility is organized about a central courtyard with three Academic wings surrounding it. The fourth side opens to the amphitheatre court which is contained by the Multipurpose wing and the Fine Arts Center developed within the existing historic Settegast Building. The largest communal area is the Multipurpose room, which when combined with the upper loft overlooking it, provides a space large enough for the entire student body. The daily ritual of a single lunch hour where all grade levels meld together will be held in this area and provide a variety of options for the dining experience, including the visually connected adjacent outdoor sheltered deck area, at the base of the amphitheatre hill.
The building is designed with simple structural and building systems to achieve economy, allowing the entry and library architectural statements as the primary visual interest points of the design. Three primary materials are used on the exterior of the building: architecturally treated concrete tilt-up walls, structural glazed tile, and glass window walls. Color is also used as accents to engage and invite.

The school values the surrounding urban community and compliments the scale of the neighborhood. It is sited to face the street with an urban edge, and an iconic expression of the library anchoring the prominent corner of the site. The school facility is anticipated to be silver LEED certified. The school’s environmental systems and energy conserving strategies are overtly expressed in the architecture as an educational tool for the students.

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Status: Under Construction
Location: Houston, TX, US