The Austin Independent School District’s board voted Monday night to select international firm Perkins+Will as architect for a new, $80 million Eastside Memorial Early College High School and International High School. The Austin office of the architecture form will be responsible for the project design, the city’s first ground-up school build in almost 20 years.
The new school will be located at 714 Thompson Street, which was part of the last campus of L.C. Anderson High School, the segregation-era African American school that was a source of neighborhood pride on a number of fronts and had at least three different locations in the area before forced to shut down in 1971 by court order.
That closing and the reopening of the school in west Austin helped deepen the city’s racial and ethnic divide and has remained a sore point for longtime residents and advocates of the Eastside neighborhood to the current day.
A press statement from Perkins+Will’s related that the new school will be designed in a way that might help heal that longtime rift. Plans are to design with the school district’s vision of “reinvent[ing] the urban school” and will include multipurpose community rooms, as well as a gallery area in celebration of the L.C. Anderson High School legacy.
“The alumni of the original school are thrilled the new school will reopen as a new hope for the community about the same time as their 50-year class reunion,” said Angela Whitaker-Williams, associate principal and Austin education practice leader at Perkins+Will. “We are deeply honored to play such a key role in preserving this important part of the school’s history and building a new future for Eastside Memorial Early College and International High Schools.”
The new high school will have a curriculum based on multiculturalism and “career tech” programs, according to the statement. It will will be across the street from the Eastview campus of Austin Community College, which presents opportunities for collaboration on higher education for the Early College programs.
The Eastside Memorial Early College and International High Schools facility is one of the projects made possible by the district’s recently approved $1.05 billion bond program and is one of 16 schools slated for campus improvement projects or replacements throughout the district.