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Eastside school design draws on neighborhood legacy

New facility will honor L.C. Anderson High’s historic role in African American community

Austin Eastside Memorial High School rendering
Courtesy of Perkins + Will

Recently released renderings of a new East Austin school reveal a design intended to honor and preserve the legacy of L.C. Anderson High School, which previously occupied the site and served as an important community center in the area for decades.

The new school, Eastside Memorial Early College High School and International High School in Austin, will be located at 714 Thompson Street. The grounds are part of what was the last campus of L.C. Anderson High School, the segregation-era African American school that was a source of neighborhood pride and community and had at least three different locations in the area before closing in 1971, when integration of public schools was federally mandated.

In late 2017, the Austin Independent School Board chose global firm Perkins+Will to design the design the project, the district’s first ground-up school to be built in almost 20 years. The high school will have a curriculum based on multiculturalism and “career tech” (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs as well as providing specialized education for students who have little to no proficiency in the English language.

The hilltop campus features views of the Austin business district as well as surrounding neighborhoods and parks. Its location across the street from the Eastview campus of Austin Community College, which is connected by a wellness walking path, will also offer opportunities for working on higher education for the Early College programs.

Perkins+Will’s plans for the project, which broke ground recently, will incorporate elements of the original structure to honor its importance as a hub and source of neighborhood pride for the surrounding community.

The new construction will retain the low-slung original building, clad in red brick, and build on its modernist features with a multistory structure featuring modern lines and predominantly metal and glass building materials.

The entrance to the former school’s gym will lead to a community center and gallery with a display relating L.C. Anderson High School’s history, a timeline, legacy medallions, and display cabinets for other objects of historic significance.

Courtesy of Perkins + Will
Interior of school with modern design, with orange white and black graphic designs on the wall Courtesy of Perkins + Will
Courtesy of Perkins + Will

Austin Eastside Memorial High School rendering

The new, four-story portion of the building will feature technologically equipped learning spaces as well as student-focused classrooms, two gymnasiums, and a premiere health science lab. The team also plans to build on the school’s multiple outdoor spaces with a large, multiuse classroom courtyard that includes dining areas, a stage, reflection areas, and sensory gardens.

Courtesy of Perkins + Will

Aiming for LEED Silver Certification, Perkins + Will designed the space for passive heating and cooling with strategic elements that include use of natural daylight, optimized mechanical systems, and ways to reduce water use within the building and on its grounds. The school is also convenient to public transportation and bicycle routes.

Eastside Memorial is one of the projects made possible by the school 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.

The project is expected to be completed in summer 2021.