2018—Dan Dipert Career + Technical Center

Arlington ISD—Dan Dipert Career + Technical Center
Architect: VLK Architects

Design—Star of DistinctionDesign

“Exhibiting Opportunity” is the theme as students experience industry for their chosen future careers. The school is organized by 18 academies which have large expanses of glass between the open collaboration spaces putting education on display. This idea of showcasing education in the various academies is intended to foster mutual enrichment between the different programs and expose students to careers they may have never considered for themselves, in a corporate campus environment.

Value—Star of DistinctionValue

The school is purposely located in a deteriorating area of the community to spark reinvestment and development. Student learning extends into the community providing services in automotive, cosmetology, floral design, etc. A local university and college use the facility for their programs as well. The school is a “no wax” facility, as polished concrete and linoleum flooring throughout require only a damp mop for long-term maintenance. Cost-efficient tilt wall was utilized for the exterior.


Natural light is utilized in every single space, and the building orientation captures north light. On the south side, windows are protected with angled fins blocking direct sunlight. Roof drainage is diverted to bioswales to clean and absorb the water into natural vegetation prior to entering the storm sewer system. The building has been designed to be very flexible, so when programs change, the building will only be altered minimally, reducing the need for major renovations or additions.

Community—Star of DistinctionCommunity

The district-wide school is intentionally located in a socio-economic diverse area of the district, serving 4,800 students in career exploration for certification. Intentional collaboration serves students in their daily work and as places to communicate with the community seeking services like automotive and cosmetology. The school is flexible and can transform as curricula changes, supporting an ever-changing workforce. Academic programs support 28 industry certification opportunities.

Planning—Star of DistinctionPlanning

Community engagement was paramount to the design process. Program sessions were held to develop the CTE programs to fit the employment needs of the community. Once the CTE programs were determined, industry specialists were brought in to provide input on not only the architecture but also the types of equipment to be used by the students. The major goal throughout the planning process was to emulate industry so that when students graduated, they could “hit the ground running.”

Transformation—Star of DistinctionSchool Transformation

Career inspired students to have powerful options to commence their chosen future. All spaces emulate industry and are on display throughout the building showcasing student talent to peers and the community. Educators share a common collaborative office which extends to cross-collaboration between the academies, and students. Fire academy students teach culinary students how to operate a fire extinguisher, while photography students help cosmetology students prepare and document their portfolio.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner