2015 — Performing Arts Center

Austin ISD—Performing Arts Center

The Performing Arts Center is the first purpose-built, district-wide Fine Arts facility in the 134-year history of the school district. 11 years of planning, design, and construction resulted in a facility that houses four state-of-the-art venues serving more than 84,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade in 129 schools, exemplifying the community and district’s commitment to making Fine Arts education available to all.


The PAC is centrally-located in an urban, mixed-use redevelopment. The master plan envisions a sustainable community that promotes architectural, economic, and social diversity. In acknowledgement of the framework laid out by the Neighborhood Development, great care was given to foster active, dynamic street edges–making life and activity within visible from the street, and vice versa. Shared use of spaces with the neighbors further ties the new facility to the fabric of the community.

Stars of Distinction Design

Visible from afar, the tall, metal panel-clad auditorium draws visitors to the facility. Lower volumes are situated along the street edges, imparting a human scale. Inside, three prominently located performance venues are tied together with a spacious, daylit lobby. Each venue is clearly expressed through the use of material, simplifying circulation. The venues are carefully designed as flexible, state-of-the-art educational spaces that support the myriad of educational goals of the District.

Stars of Distinction Planning

As the school district’s foremost arts education facility, the planning of the PAC focused on providing flexible space for the many Fine Arts programs. The eight-year process consisted of gathering stakeholder information, from Owner committees and task forces, to governing boards and neighborhood groups. Input gathered at these meetings informed everything from vehicular circulation to material selection. The ultimate design was born from the thoughtful integration of this information.

Stars of Distinction Sustainability

From the outset, sustainability was conceived of as a driving force, informing the every decision during design. Daylit spaces, natural materials, and efficient use of water and energy are just a few of the sustainable strategies integrated throughout the building. The project anticipated a LEED Gold certification and has received a 5-Star rating (the highest available) from the local green building program.

Stars of Distinction Value

The PAC was designed as a multi-purpose facility; each space serving numerous functions. The value of each square foot was maximized by consolidating and combining resources. The design focused on flexibility through the building organization, space planning, technology, and adaptability to meet future needs. Careful cost estimating during design kept the project in budget and allowed the Owner to take a 6,000 sf alternate bid to construct the Dance Studio.

Stars of Distinction School Transformation

The PAC provides a unique opportunity for Fine Arts education throughout the District . As a District facility, state-of-the-art audio-visual and theatre technology and equipment are integrated so that students can benefit from this top-tier environment. Education in supporting careers such as technical theater, broadcast and recording are available through internships, educating students with critical and relevant 21st century skills.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner