2019—I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM and VPA

Fort Worth ISD—I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM and VPA
Architect: Corgan

The STEM and Visual and Performing Arts Academy transforms a historic facility into a state-of-the-art performance hall that honors and elevates the campus’ heritage. The academy is a destination for students with passion for the arts and STEM and a signature performance venue for the city. The existing building and the new 63,000-square-foot performing arts center are connected by a secure courtyard and Grand Canopy. Set atop a hill, the school is a gateway for the district and the community.


Each design decision was made with students in mind. Clear site boundaries and a central courtyard create unity. The building scale, brick selection, and Grand Canopy respect the historic building and direct views to downtown. The exposed steel structure, polished concrete floors, and expansive glazing creates a “student-owned creative factory.” Unique program spaces and state-of-the-art equipment and infrastructure prepare aspiring performers, artists, and engineers for professional careers.


Previously used as district offices and an elementary school, the existing space is maximized to reduce capital costs of new construction. Most of the spaces in the new building serve multiple purposes and can be adapted based on the need. For example, the robotics team can practice in the black box theater, and dancers can rehearse in the music ensemble room. The theater serves both students and the community with performances by the city symphony, ballet, and opera.


The facility includes high-performance HVAC and lighting systems, a compact building footprint, shaded glazing, and passive heat load reduction to minimize energy consumption. Natural light, acoustic isolation, and clear views of the river and downtown engage students and enhance their experience with the environment. Underground stormwater retention, low-flow plumbing fixtures and drought tolerant native plantings not only reduce water consumption, but also are used as an educational tool.


What was once a base of segregation has been transformed into an inclusive gateway bridging the social and cultural heritage of the city with the advancements and aspirations of the district. Connection and identity between the next-generation STEM and VPA programs as well as ongoing partnerships with local arts organizations provide students with unlimited opportunities for success.


From project inception, active input was received from residents, local arts organizations, universities, the downtown development committee as well as a strong alumni association. Multiple visioning sessions, a competition and ongoing collaboration between all parties based on guiding principles led to a world-class academy and performance venue that empowers students, attracts expert instructors and supports emerging technology.

Transformation—Star of DistinctionSchool Transformation

The newly-defined identity creates a landmark within the arts community and opportunity for student success in the arts. Serving an underprivileged community, the school provides opportunity for students to engage and create through stimulating curriculum. Cross-collaboration between programs develops and nurtures artistic talent, creative thinkers and innovative problem solvers. Shifting from a traditional school model, the transformation encourages next-generation skills in emerging markets.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner