2019—Alief Center for Advanced Careers

Alief ISD—Alief Center for Advanced Careers
Architect: PBK

Design—Star of DistinctionDesign

The design was dictated by the district’s visionary goal to effectively prepare students for real-world workforce careers & post-secondary education. The design combines sleek, insulated metal panel accents with a highly durable masonry shell. Valued-added tilt-wall construction conveys the architectural components of industry. The desired outcome is a destination where students feel like their successes are driven by a potential career, not by homework.


The Central Communal Plaza minimizes the need for circulation hallways, optimizing a very compact plan that reduces energy consumption & promotes cross-pollination of programs. Thoughtful design reflects highly durable, low maintenance finishes with a highly efficient infrastructure that minimizes operating costs. The project was delivered 18% under budget & exceeds all goals established by the design committee.


The building orientation simultaneously enhances community context while minimizing heat gain. Electrochromatic glass offers an automatic tinting system to dynamically control sunlight and glare. Clerestory windows offer optimal lighting conditions in the Communal Plaza, while LED lighting minimizes energy consumption elsewhere. Natural daylight permeates every area (many areas not requiring artificial lighting at all). Durable finishes & occupancy sensors reduce operational costs.

Community—Star of DistinctionCommunity

Through partnering with the Center, local businesses have a profound influence & impact on course offerings. Mentorship programs give middle school students an early chance to learn about CTE courses before entering high school. Community outreach generates a series of annual events such as Junior Achievement’s BIZTown, blood drives, Wellness First, STEM Day, etc. The Center prioritizes public service and delivers community access through its VetTech, culinary and automotive programs.

Planning—Star of DistinctionPlanning

Planning employed a series of visioning workshops involving a diverse cross-section of business & community stakeholders. A highly collaborative charrette process focused on criteria outlined in House Bill 5, enabling the planning committee to model academic programs, CTE pathways, professions & trades demanded by real-world needs of the local region. Tours of various CTE centers helped reinforce the district’s vision for the Center & its offerings.

Transformation—Star of DistinctionSchool Transformation

Real-world environments that emulate today’s workplace are showcased through a wide range of next-generation learning spaces. Students benefit from eight CTE pathways/programs that offer professional certification upon graduation. An innovative/unique design responds to present and future needs.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner