2016—McAuliffe Middle School

Southwest ISD—McAuliffe Middle School
Architect: Marmon Mok, LLP

Multi-phased addition/renovation of an existing middle school.  Transform an aging and increasingly antiquated learning environment back to the future in function, and quality of place.  Construct while campus operations continued, including comprehensive upgrades throughout resulting in enhanced campus security and accommodating enriched technology infrastructure, fine arts areas, state-of-the-art middle school science, CATE, and media facilities.  “Make it a better place for our kids”.


Dated, aging concrete tilt-wall campus faces a major freeway is an integral part of an economically disadvantaged community.  Native stone, metal panel veneer, exposed structure and strategic storefront glazing created a highly visible “beacon of knowledge” to the city at large, making a powerful and visible statement of the community commitment to its future and the future of its children. The plan zoned secured community use of Media Center, potentially as municipal branch library.


The design effectively responds to our charge from our Client to make this campus a better place through the combination of surface treatment and planning.  The design introduces natural light, rhythm, proportion with use of indigenous materials that relate to historic context creating a sense of place in combination with planning an instructional environment that supports the future of education that will “make it a better place for our kids”.


Planning took advantage of siting and almost singular public field of vision by strategically placing new construction facing that view, creating a buffer for the older, less attractive edifice while also highlighting prominent points of destination on the campus.   A significant planning challenge was in keeping existing campus operational until renovation and new construction areas were complete resulting in a 17 month construction schedule consisting of six major phases with three sub phases.


Renovation of existing tilt-up concrete building conserved additional material, energy, and labor otherwise required to create an all new campus.  The plan contained all of the program elements within the envelope reducing the opportunity for intrusion of unconditioned outside air.  New construction and renovation took advantage of upgraded environmental systems and lighting as well as natural light harvesting to reduce daytime lighting in new construction areas and overall energy requirements.


Economic advantage to renovate the existing tilt-up concrete building.  The plan utilizes existing facilities rather than incur the expense and additional resources required to demolish and rebuild an all new campus at a fraction of the cost.  The renewed facility has inspired expressions of greater pride and dedication from its users and community.   Beyond the economic value, students and community have expressed their appreciation for the character of renewed facility and what it represents.

School Transformation

Transformation of education experience through improvement of quality of place highlighted in circulation, additions, and overall enhanced support of new directions in education.  New circulation areas include clerestory windows, solar tubes in existing areas, bringing more natural light to common spaces and direct views outside.  Additions are bathed in natural light and ample access to vistas available outside the building, transforming the campus into a literal “beacon of knowledge”.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner