2022 — Hutto 9th Grade Center

Hutto ISD—Hutto 9th Grade Center
Architect: Pfluger Architects, Inc.

A fast-growth district needed a second high school. However, the bond passed nine years before construction began, and building costs rose. A ninth-grade center was the answer.​ The design team worked with the district to develop a plan to provide next-generation educational spaces and then easily expand in the future without impacting student learning. ​ Taking cues from this historic Texas community, the design directly reflects their history and hopes.​


The design draws from the past, accommodates current programming, and supports future enrollment and pedagogical shifts.  The building’s organization allows scalable additions while remaining operational. Evident connections to their small town history are prominent features like the welcoming paseo reminiscent of a small Texas town’s main street. Other design elements reflect the community’s link to agriculture, the cotton gin co-op, and the railroad.


In 2008, residents passed a bond with funds for a second high school. The recession and enrollment shifts made building two elementary schools the priority. By 2018, their only high school was at capacity, but the saved bond funds had depreciated.  The district and design team developed a scalable design that considers and adds value to the community, now and into the future. Today, the infrastructure to expand is in place, protecting taxpayers’ money long-term.


Though the concept grew from need, innovation permeates the response. The design accommodates growth and can expand from a 1000 to a 2400 student campus, without disrupting learning.  Every wing will expand in different directions; fine arts and athletics will push north, and the academic building will expand south. Spaces like the kitchen and servery were built to final scale and will only need additional equipment when the high school is complete.


While the community is quickly changing, they have rich traditions and deep roots. They define themselves by their mascot and the lore about its adoption, which led to the school board passing a resolution to declare the hippo as the only mascot the district’s 9-12th grade schools will ever have.  This facility became part of this community the minute it was conceived, and as such, it honors their past, enriches their present, and embodies their aspirations. Also, it features many hippos.


Despite being a fast-growth district, there weren’t enough students to support two healthy, competitive high schools.  The 9th-grade center gives the district breathing room by supporting instruction today, and a plan for expansion and reconfiguration when two high schools become necessary. The infrastructure built now will save taxpayers money in the future.

School Transformation

This campus provides a launch pad for growth and expansion.  Like the building’s responsive design, learning and instructional spaces offer variety and incorporate collaborative learning areas to encourage meaningful engagement through interaction and participation. The flexibility of the design respects individual learning styles and skill sets as well as future shifts in pedagogy and enrollment.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner