Wayne Reynaud of HKS Architects gave Exchange Club members a construction update Thursday night, explaining Richardson ISD’s plan to close the gap between the former freshman center and the 55-year-old Lake Highlands High School. The project is about 50% completed, Reynaud said, except for the storm shelter tacked onto the project after new building codes were adopted.
The plan includes moving the fire lane, which has run between the two buildings since the freshman center was built in 1997, to the north end of the campus parallel to the Lake Highlands Trail. The multipurpose activity center, or MAC, is part of the project, as are upgrades to the school’s career and technology education, or CTE, programs, which teach architecture, building trades and other skills.
The highlight of the construction is the Hub, which serves as a magnetic force and heartbeat of the transformed new building. If the goal of the project is to pull two buildings together, the Hub is what stitches them up with no visible seam.
Part food court and part learning commons, the Hub will resemble the student center of most college campuses. Big windows will pull in natural light from all directions, and small seating areas will encourage student groups to gather for lunch or study sessions. Newly created courtyards will hold native Texas xeriscapes and xen gardens to bring the outside in. The Hub will be primo pre-function space for big events in the adjacent gym.
Connectivity, Reynaud said, is one of the project’s primary goals. The Hub will replace LHHS’s system of two lunchrooms, the Wildcat Den and the cafeteria, with a unified space. Previously, the most racially divided hour at LHHS had been noon time.
The Wildcat Den, also known as the Student Center, will be transformed into an art gallery, and state-of-the art classrooms will replace the old cafeteria and library, Reynaud said.
The Hub and most elements of the project will be complete when school begins August 19, said RISD’s Assistant Superintendent of Operations Sandra Hayes. The timing is good, because student enrollment in Lake Highlands is on the rise. About 2,700 students currently attend LHHS, she said, but at least 3,000 are projected in the next 5-10 years.
You can learn more about the project on the HKS Architects webpage here.