2020—MAPS at Highland Park High School

Highland Park ISD — MAPS at Highland Park High School
Architect: Stantec

Located in a school district with traditional pedagogy, MAPS augments core classes to pose students with challenges larger than the classroom. In an already high achieving school district, this combination of project-based learning, multi-disciplinary collaboration, and professional engagement gives students a post-secondary advantage. MAPS serves as an incubator for leadership, entrepreneurial skills, and brings together students and business leaders in the community whose aspirations align.


The concept for MAPS began by crafting its identity before the program was defined. As part of the visioning for MAPS, that visual identity was created and set the tone for what the spaces eventually became. The branding scales from the letterheads to wall graphics, and helped the space become a point of identification and pride for the students of the program. The brand developed a culture that now defines MAPS as a landmark for transformational learning in the high school.


MAPS was fully funded through a private grant from a Texas family, enabling development of the curriculum and space. Re-purpose of existing spaces allowed dollars to be reallocated for the purchase of curriculum and critical equipment. Finishing out future programs will be cost effective through strategically concealed shell spaces. Through this investment, a well performing high school maintains its relevancy and future opportunities for affordable growth.


With MAPS being located inside an existing building, the biggest sustainable feature of the space is that it does not occupy a new greenfield site.  Given that MAPS is an interior finish out, the focus for sustainability was on smart material choices, a reduction in need for artificial lighting, and high efficiency mechanical equipment. By designing towards a low-impact life cycle and lowered carbon footprint, MAPS improves the sustainability of the existing building it occupies.


MAPS creates connections that would not otherwise exist between business mentors and students. Within the school community, MAPS does not act as an enclosed program. Instead, MAPS engages core curriculum teachers and students through its multidisciplinary approach. In addition, MAPS connects with a variety of other programs like the SPED run coffee shop.

Planning—Star of DistinctionPlanning

The curriculum, branding, and space were developed in tandem, which were reviewed under the requirements of the grant. The curriculum was oriented towards design, innovation, and entrepreneurship, so the space had to convey a genuine experience of professional work. The integration of the branding into the program and the space visually distinguishes it from the existing building and facilitates a new identity within the high school.

School Transformation

Throughout MAPS’ development, the client was unencumbered by political pressure, bond costs, or staunch district traditions. The space was designed to generate excitement about an experimental program transforming student learning. It provides a fundamentally different pedagogy than has not existed in the district to date. True flexible learning spaces and an educational program built on authentic learning experiences allow students access to discover a passion for learning.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner