The master plan for the new Austin Community College Highland Campus was one of only four projects recognized with an “Award of Excellence” in the Spring 2015 issue of Learning By Design. Twice each year, the publication showcases the nation’s best education design and construction projects. A panel of architects reviews all submissions and selects the outstanding projects to showcase and from those, projects deserving special recognition.
O’Connell Robertson, teamed with Pfeiffer Partners Architects, was selected by the ACC Board of Trustees to create the master plan to transform the former Highland Mall into a new campus for Austin Community College. The goal for the plan was to create an energized student environment that will support regional economic development, provide a forum for community events and partnerships, and support ACC’s Academic Master Plan. The design team involved Facility Programming and Consulting in leading a comprehensive stakeholder involvement process to obtain ideas and identify needs and goals for more than 1,200,000 SF of space in the mall building.
The first phase of the plan to be developed will involve 415,000 SF of interior space, providing a creative digital media center, regional workforce center, a culinary arts/hospitality management center, health sciences simulation center, and other classrooms and labs. The master plan envisions a scholarly, dynamic environment that provides transparency, flexibility, an abundance of natural light, multiple public spaces for student and community interaction, areas for collaboration, and outdoor recreational areas. The campus master plan supports ACC’s partnership to create a mixed-use destination for the area.
Jurors reviewing the award entry cited the plan as “a great example of Urban Design using education as a lever to create a new community asset from a former mall,” and “an innovative reuse design solution.”
“The master plan provides a clear roadmap for future development,” said Dr. Richard Rhodes, president/CEO of Austin Community College. “It aims to ensure that the decisions regarding ACC Highland reflect the vision, mission and strategic plans of the college.”