Grand Prairie ISD—Grand Prairie High School
After a years of makeshift additions and renovations, the district commissioned this project to create one unified campus: a destination for the community and a center for innovation and opportunity, with a clear identity and sense of place. Key to its success was the removal of hierarchical barriers and the creation of shared spaces that foster the social and creative skills required for success in today’s professions.
Campus-wide concepts of transformation and connection are carried through at all scales. Physical barriers were removed to connect community, breakout and program spaces. Wood, limestone and glass provide warmth and transparency, and bright accent colors identify and brand zones. Reconfigurable classrooms, innovation zones and the campus union connect learners and facilitators for mentoring and ideation. Early college and career spaces are designed appropriately to set students up for success.
Efficient and strategic interventions provide the highest impact for the least cost and allow for future adaptations. An underutilized library, siloed faculty offices and dining was combined into one centralized, flexible zone for collaboration, professional development and individual study. The academic tower plaza and balcony serve dual use as outdoor learning and athletic pre-function. High efficiency HVAC systems, durable materials and sustainable landscaping lower operating costs.
Strategic modifications of the robust campus infrastructure reduce its environmental impact. Natural and indirect lighting, views, acoustic isolation and good indoor air quality improves student engagement, health and focus. The efficient Variable Refrigerant Flow HVAC system is an educational tool for construction students. Busses removed from campus core to allow for a future landscaped courtyard. An outdoor learning plaza with native limestone benches and plantings is shared by the community.
The project fosters respect and identity for the community, students and staff, reinvigorates the north half of the city, and represents the community and district values of innovation, opportunity and achievement. Community is developed within the school through shared spaces in an environment conceived as a “home away from home.” Career technology programs provide a pipeline for workforce innovation in the area.
District goals aligned with community input to inform design decisions. Early planning included re-routing the pedestrian and vehicular pathways to create a seamless flow and a welcoming campus entry. Complex renovations to traditional spaces created an opportunity to maximize vertical and horizontal circulation, increasing cross-collaboration. The space transformed to a highly-customizable environment, allowing students to activate the space and create greater learning opportunities.
What began as a closed-off, siloed atmosphere was transformed into a collaborative space with a clear identity. The facility’s design references many commercial office trends, such as customizable collaboration zones and the campus union fosters mentoring, interaction and tutoring encouraging peer-to-peer, student-to-teacher and teacher-teacher engagement.
Star of Distinction Category Winner