2019—Becky Lowery Freshman Center

Allen ISD—Becky Lowery Freshman Center
Architect: Corgan

To accommodate the growing needs of their community, alleviate over-crowding, and provide a state-of-the-art learning environment, the one-high school district envisioned a new freshman center. The facility is tailored to ease the transition of students from their neighborhood middle school into the existing 6,000-student high school. Built on the same site as the existing school, it leverages existing amenities and maximizes the district resources, while increasing student opportunities.

Design—Star of DistinctionDesign

The concept is designed for public and student-centered spaces with secure learning spaces around a central collaboration zone. Huddle spaces with natural light function as innovation hubs and include visual connectivity allowing students to learn outside the four walls. The spaces can remain transparent to provide flexible environments or become opaque for student safety during a lockdown. The central spine serves as the main connector, stitching together spaces and minimizing travel distance.


Thoughtful building siting allowed the district to operate the existing facility, while the new one was under construction. Geothermal HVAC, increased R-value, natural light, and shading of curtainwalls decreased maintenance and operation expenditures of the building, creating an opportunity for increased student investment. To engage the community, the auditorium, cafeteria, and competition gym are used after-hours as rentable space, generating revenue and serving as a shared space.


Replacing the district’s aging school allowed for investments in energy efficiencies to support student well-being. Geothermal HVAC systems provide 30% greater efficiency and energy savings. Daylight was used in all teaching and gathering spaces, connecting students to their environment. Local materials were used to reduce the carbon footprint, and native plantings reduce water usage while showcasing sustainability to students.


The stand-alone freshman campus instills a sense of identity for ninth-grade students, while still providing adjacency to the high school. This allows students to seamlessly travel back and forth leveraging dual credit/collegiate classes. This high-level of community engagement in the design process led to a sense of place and ownership. Several large gathering spaces are open to the broader community, serving a dual purpose to the district and city.


District workshops with administrators, teachers, and facilitators highlighted the importance of a smaller neighborhood within the campus. Secure learning zones are designed for students to work autonomously outside their classroom, embracing the student-centric learning model. The building form follows the natural curve of the adjacent street, creating a strong, visual connection to the public. The building pays homage to the district’s history, while serving as a catalyst for students to excel.

School Transformation

The high school previously served as the freshman center before a series of additions. Now, it is repurposed as a 21st-century Special Achievement Center. As a gateway to future learning, the new freshman center heightens student engagement and personalized learning opportunities. Classroom pods increase interaction, while the central spine connects the campus. The new facility embodies the community’s culture while crafting a student-centric freshman experience.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner