2017—Tom Glenn High School

Leander ISD—Tom Glenn High School
Architect: Pfluger Architects

Tom Glenn High School is designed to accommodate district standards for improvement and supporting future changes to learning. The school encompasses small academic houses to facilitate small group learning and community networking. Larger common areas are centralized for teachers to use these spaces in their curricula and to provide better circulation and flow for students. A separate building houses extra-curricular activities to cut energy costs and increase safety for after-school programs.


LISD’s integrated high school model features a commons area, ease of circulation, and convenient after-hours access, but the key feature is the design of the “academic neighborhoods.” LISD’s version of the Neighborhood Concept facilitates small group learning and collaboration. Designed to accommodate district standards for improvement or future changes in learning, shared spaces flow into each other, with elevated transparency and visibility from the “teacher houses” for ease of monitoring.


Economical building materials were selected to optimize life cycle value, such as insulated concrete tilt up panel walls and polished concrete floors. Teacher office space allows for full classroom utilization, increasing student capacity with fewer overall classrooms. The high school site shared development and infrastructure costs with an adjacent private subdivision and a future middle school site. The site layout worked with existing contours to economize earthwork and drainage improvements.


The District strived to improve their already energy-efficient systems. Staff and consultants studied every detail of building configuration, natural light, materials and construction via extensive computer energy modeling. For example, the AC system relies on high efficiency ground source cooling, but different systems were selected for certain parts of the building, based on usage data and cooling load patterns. A collection system for rainwater and AC condensate fulfills all irrigation needs.


The site layout was carefully planned to preserve existing Hill Country natural features and live oak trees, while mitigating traffic impact on the surrounding neighborhood. The building layout recognizes that the school operates nearly 24/7, and serves many community and extracurricular functions. Many areas can be separately accessed after hours, including the Auditorium, Black Box Theatre, Gym, Fieldhouse, Exercise Room, Band Hall, Choir Hall, CTE shop, Culinary Arts Dining, and Dance Studio.


Leander ISD used a visioning process to adapt their secondary campus model in the light of the District’s Guiding Documents and Learning Model. A committee of educators, administrators, consultants, designers, students, community and board members toured schools across the country, participating in a series of work-shops to identify key planning concepts. Concepts identified by the committee were synthesized into a consensus plan to represent the District’s educational approach and core values.

School Transformation

Transformation—Star of Distinction

LISD’s Neighborhood concept creates a Critical Thinking Learning Environment, focused on collaboration and active learning. The shared flexible space at the heart of each Neighborhood includes comfortable furniture, seating areas, presentation spaces, small group work areas, and presentation spaces. Operable walls allow classrooms to be paired or opened entirely to common areas to create large collaborative spaces. Similarly, part of the Library work space flows into the Main Commons.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner