A slab of cracked cement painted over with yellow parking lines sits at the corner of Rusk and Austin – with downtown skyscrapers looming overhead.
Come Tuesday, the cement will be ripped up and construction will begin on a new five-story, 168,000-square-foot building for the Houston ISD’s High School for Performing and Visual Arts.
The sleek, $80-million project will include a 200-seat mini-theater, 200-seat black box theater, 150-seat recital hall, rooftop garden and outdoor art studio. The centerpiece will be an 800-seat main theater, complete with a balcony, that will fit the prestigious magnet school’s entire faculty and student body with room to spare.
“We’re downtown and so close to the arts district, you can just feel the energy down here. It’s going to be amazing to have the kids down here,” said HSPVA principal R. Scott Allen, who was among the dignitaries to help break ground on the site Sunday at a celebration that included several student and alumni performances. “We already have great partnerships with the (local) arts organizations, but us being so much closer now, I think it makes it easier to make those even stronger. … To be able to even connect with businesses that don’t have an arts focus would give some kids some opportunities. That’s a dream of mine.”
The new space, approved by voters in a 2012 bond, will allow the school to move from its current Montrose campus. It will also provide room for the new creative writing program, whose students currently take classes in the library and in portable trailers.
See here and here for some background. HSPVA is one of HISD’s crown jewels, and this project sounds like it’s going to be awesome. It’s not far from where I work, I should wander over periodically and see how it’s going. It’s possible one of my kids could wind up going there, so we’ll just call it research. Anyway, I can’t wait to see what it winds up looking like.