2019—Klein Cain High School

Klein ISD—Klein Cain High School
Architect: PBK

This new high school represents a significant departure from the traditional high school program. Exterior architecture pays homage to the local heritage of founding settlers while the progressive interiors are replete with multi-functioning, “NextGen” spaces. The environment supports an expanded curriculum and broad spectrum of CTE programs that prioritize a strong culture of learning, the cultivation of individual interests, and an open exploration of life’s educational & career opportunities.


Interiors drastically emphasize space & resources that respond to Next Generation teaching & learning. School boasts transparent, transformable instructional spaces. Moveable glass panels showcased in the Learning Hub are also utilized in mixed-use spaces, as well as small learning communities (classes easily open to larger circulation areas). Transom windows permit abundant light in classrooms. L-shaped studios & agile spaces permit zoning where students can work independently or in groups.


The prioritized goal for “Value” was to develop a responsive environment that embraces high expectations for student character & academic achievement. That outcome is only complimented by highly durable, low-maintenance materials & applications throughout the school’s shell & interiors. In addition to being completed on time & under budget… moveable walls, abundant daylighting, care-free finishes & a highly efficient building systems all contribute to the school’s “value.”


The campus’ energy-efficient HVAC system reduces overall energy load. A large skylight spanning the length of “Main Street” reduces the overall need for artificial lighting by introducing an abundance of natural light throughout the school’s “core.” Direct & indirect (borrowed) natural light from the core affects all classroom & collaboration spaces. Highly efficient LED lighting only supplements sunlight where necessary.


The school’s character within the community intentionally pays homage to the historical heritage of founding German settlers. During Hurricane Harvey, the campus demonstrated its community loyalty by opening its doors to elementary students whose school had been detrimentally impacted. That event resulted in a unique moment in time where elementary kids not only found a refuge for learning, but received impromptu, organic mentorship from high school students.


This project began with an architectural design competition. Several K-12 firms participated; the winning firm would work with leadership & community stakeholders to create a solution for this historically significant school. The winner conducted hundreds of hours of research about the region & delivered a contextually appropriate response. Additional workshops resulted in a best-in-class secondary learning environment that effectively responds to NextGen educational applications.

School Transformation

The school represents a complete paradigm shift from the district’s traditional high school program. While the exterior architecture pays homage to regional heritage (traditional), the progressive interiors are replete with agile/adaptive/customizable “NextGen” spaces. The environment supports expanded curriculum & a broad spectrum of CTE programs that prioritize a strong culture of learning, cultivation of individual student interests, and open exploration of educational & career opportunities.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner