The phrase “we are better together” defines the classroom replacement project at Memorial High School, which was recently awarded a Star of Distinction in the School Transformation category by the Texas Association of School Administrators’ and Texas Association of School Board’s Exhibit of School Architecture competition.
Early in the project’s conception, staff, students, parents and community members on the MHS Project Advisory Team (PAT) established the following Guiding Principles for the Stantec Architecture team to incorporate in the design plan:
- College-like campus
- Outdoor learning spaces
- Large gathering commons
- Protect existing trees
- Spaces for high levels of learning
- Improved traffic and pedestrian flow
“The engagement with Spring Branch stakeholder groups (district, campus, community) was interactive, and the synergy of these stakeholders informed the design process,” said Jennifer Henrikson, Stantec Principal and Houston K-12 market leader.
The School Transformation Star of Distinction
The Exhibit of School Architecture competition showcases new and renovated Texas public school facilities and celebrates excellence in planning and design of the learning environment.
The modern and functional replacement of classroom buildings and environmental upgrades at Memorial High School clearly impressed the TASA/TASB architectural competition jury, who awards Stars of Distinction for excellence in several different categories each year.
“It is such an honor for the MHS project to receive a Star of Distinction,” said Travis T. Stanford, Associate Superintendent for Operations. “It helps to support and justify all the time and efforts put forth by so many people within Spring Branch ISD, our Community and Stantec Architects.”
Why did MHS need this upgrade?
As part of a district-wide facility assessment it was determined the original classroom buildings at Memorial High School, in place since the 1960's, no longer served the needs of today’s learners. The dining space was too small and the outdoor areas were disjointed and not well organized. Also, traffic flow and parking were very difficult and not as safe as they could be.
We are better together
Collective Greatness and Collaborative Spirit, two of Spring Branch ISD’s Core Values, are evident in the “we are better together” sentiments of all involved with the project, which is so much more than new classrooms and labs (50!), a dining commons, collaborative learning spaces indoors and out, driveways and parking.
“This project positively impacts every high school student who attends MHS and the broader community who engages with the facility,” Henrikson said.
The project is part of the $898.4 million 2017 Bond, which was approved with 80 percent of the vote inNovember 2017. The transformation (and replacement) of the outdated buildings and classrooms into dynamic, flexible and collaborative learning spaces for core content and science instruction was one of the key successes of the Memorial High School project.
Mechanical and security improvements throughout the campus, as well as renovations in the Career & Technology and Special Education facilities, were included in the scope of work. A large, soaring dining commons replacement now serves as an event and meeting space for the school and district and is a distinctly modern focal point for the campus. Over 500 trees on the site were maintained, as well.
The renovated spaces were opened to MHS students and staff in Fall 2022.