2015 — School of Health Professions

Harlingen CISD—School of Health Professions

This is a new specialty school designed as a magnet school for attracting area students to health professions areas of study.

Stars of Distinction Community

This critical facility provides a direct pipeline of future employees to the region’s largest employer, the Regional Area Health Clinic. It also provides the best economic/career opportunities for kids, improving economic conditions.
Upper class students go on rotation at the Health Clinics, doctor offices, and pharmacies to acquire hands on skills in a real-world setting.
Community use of school commons for various functions is available and encouraged.


2-story design is organized around a large, open, central commons used for gathering, dining, breakout and study. The commons has a coffee shop, variety of seating options, a library and multi-function space. Designers saved 5,000 SF off building area by grouping the cafeteria, commons, and all group seating areas.
Labs are located along the first-floor perimeter, with large windows that put learning on display. Labs serve as showpieces for the facility, with core classrooms located upstairs.


Facilitated a stakeholder committee of 25 people. Led facility tours, and later – visioning and planning sessions considering several concepts to choose the best solution for how to make core and lab spaces interact most efficiently and simulate a professional environment.


Reflective roof, energy efficient HVAC system and windows. The facility is equipment intensive, so an efficient mechanical system delivers a lot of value . Extensive daylighting throughout. Building orientation minimizes western exposure. No windows on the west side. Native plants and local materials used in landscaping and construction.

Stars of Distinction Value

Low lifecycle cost and maintenance costs. Stained concrete floors require minimal maintenance. All labs are same size – easily adaptable to different pathways if needed. All labs have identical capabilities, but are valved where needed, for future flexibility, and to ensure the most efficient use of HVAC. Storage space is shared by 2 labs, providing further space and operational savings.

Stars of Distinction School Transformation

The largest employer is the Regional Area Health Center , so training the next generation of workforce locally was a priority. The resulting facility features a variety of different health science classrooms and labs, providing a collegiate environment with academic spaces organized around a large dining/commons area. The facility acts as a magnet for students from all over South Texas interested in health professions, and provides instruction for grades 7-12 (currently used only by 8th and 9th).

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner