2015 — Denison High School

Denison ISD–Denison High School

New construction of a two-story, replacement High School including classrooms, library, cafeteria, three gymnasiums, a 640 seat Auditorium, fine art spaces, an Indoor Athletic Center, and out door baseball, softball, track, soccer and tennis facilities.

Stars of DistinctionCommunity

The district chose to have a single high school rather than multiple smaller schools to keep the strong community relationships unified. In addition, the school’s historic exterior design reflects the aesthetic of the central town square which is the heart of the community. Interior graphics describe the history of significant figures and places that inspire current students to excel. Specialized classrooms accommodate high achieving career training programs for the nationally ranked school.


The campus design responded to the community’s valued history and established a strong visible presence to the new pastoral site. Located on the apex of two rolling hills bisected by a protected water way, the high school was sited to maximize the extensive views and create a visible presence to the nearby roadways, taking visual cues from the historic town center. The floor levels of the building respond to the site contours, minimizing the site impact and development costs.


As the replacement high school for a single high school community, engaging the local stakeholders was a priority from the beginning of the project. This led to extensive studies of a pastoral site to create a campus that maximized a visible presence while retaining aesthetic cues to a historic town center that the community values. The campus orientation, massing, and function were all directly influenced by the site topography and unique visual cues.


Locating the high school along the site’s high point allowed for the preservation of wooded areas along a protected water way, while maintaining a strong visual connection to the surrounding pastoral landscape. By building into the sloping landscape of the site, the school benefits from the natural insulating and passive cooling qualities of the earth. The natural amenities are used as an educational tool as students expand their learning outside the classroom.


A compact layout was chosen for the school plan to minimize exterior wall surface , while maintaining natural daylighting to the core classrooms. With an expansive rolling site, the design took advantage of the sloping topography by creating a split level plan, reducing the amount earthwork required to balance the site. Multi-use spaces are shared with the community through secure entries. The athletic venues in the one high school district allow the whole community to assemble together.

School Transformation

21st Century Schools require state-of-the-art career education spaces, professional quality performance and athletic venues, and open, collaborative spaces with real-time technology tools. This high school exhibits these attributes and keeps pace with the school’s high achieving academic record. In addition, it is firmly rooted in a sense of place – in the community and on the site – grounding students with strong roots, so they can grow to far reaching heights.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner