Highland Park ISD provided a vision for what its future might look like on Wednesday with the release of architectural sketches related to its $361 million bond proposal.
Read more details after the jump, and let us know what you think.
Under the plan, which will be decided upon by voters on Nov. 3, three of the four elementary schools within the district — including Bradfield, Hyer, and University Park — would be razed and rebuilt during the next several years. They would be joined by a new elementary school adjacent to Northway Christian Church and a renovated Armstrong campus to help relieve overcrowding.
There would also be extensive projects slated for the district’s two secondary campuses, as well, but the ambitious concept for rebuilding the elementary schools — each of which have been around since at least 1949 — has drawn the most skepticism and interest from taxpayers.
The sketches from district architect Stantec Inc. show possibilities for the exterior design of the front of the three rebuilt schools. Each would be two stories, with an underground parking garage and plenty of technological enhancements.
Stantec’s Jonathan Aldis said many factors went into the preliminary designs, including the desire for each new building to incorporate elements of its history into the new structure.
“The goal is an innovative space for students that also honors the history of the school and the expectations of the community,” Aldis said. “This is not about wiping things out and starting again. The history needs to be honored going forward.”
This summer, the district assembled a separate design team for each elementary campus, comprised of community volunteers, to provide input. It’s important to note that the sketches released Wednesday are not final, but simply ideas.
The most eye-opening proposals come at Hyer and University Park. In the case of UP, Aldis suggests going away from its traditional Spanish Colonial influences in favor of a red-brick design, saying it fits a building that is a symbol of the community that stands adjacent to one of its most popular parks.
“It’s a departure. We’re trying to capture more of the spirit of the immediate area,” he said. “The aesthetic history doesn’t all get thrown away.”
At Hyer, the quaint single-story look and 300-foot front façade would be gone, but the iconic entry sign would almost certainly remain. There would be more lawn space in front of the Georgian-style design, with gables to try and disguise some of the added height to the structure.
“I think seeing Hyer at two stories — everyone might need to look at it for a second,” Aldis said. “But it’s still very much a part of the neighborhood and has some familiarity to it.”
The sketch for Bradfield seems to incorporate the fewest changes from its existing Spanish Colonial design, which offers a nod to the iconic Highland Park Village shopping center down the street. Again, it could incorporate certain popular aspects of the existing structure, such as the entryway, in a way that best serves the surrounding area, Aldis said.
“We’re not looking to replicate,” he said. “We didn’t want to wind up with three schools that look the same. The neighborhood plays an important part.”
There aren’t any sketches yet for the proposed fifth elementary school, which would be constructed before any of the existing schools are torn down, then used as a relief campus during construction at Bradfield, Hyer, and UP, in an order to be determined.
Aldis said there’s still plenty of site planning to be done for the new school, if it passes. The design of the underground parking garages at each campus hasn’t been finalized, and a project management structure hasn’t been determined.
District officials said the design process would be expedited once the bond funding becomes available, if the constituents approve. But they stressed the desire for public participation.
“These aren’t going to be cookie-cutter schools,” said HPISD superintendent Tom Trigg. “These are very strong examples of what they might look like. It’s a starting point for our community.”