Named for the 45th Governor of Texas, the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders is a college preparatory public school of choice for students in grades 6–12. A part of the Austin Independent School District, the school originally established in 2007 at the former building of Porter Middle School. Years of growth reflected a space that was no longer adequate for the Ann Richards School (ARS) Stars, and in 2017, voters passed Austin ISD’s $1B bond proposal to prioritize 21st-century learning spaces for all students.
As part of this bond package, Rogers-O’Brien delivered a state-of-the-art building for the future women leaders of Ann Richards School, designed by O'Connell Robertson. The full-campus modernization project serves 1,000+ students in southwest Austin. The new design promotes flexible learning spaces, collaboration, and creativity. In the past ten years, the school has been named one of the topmost challenging schools in the nation by The Washington Post. As a forward-thinking school, ARS strives to provide it students STEM curriculum throughout their formative years on campus.
All building systems and features reflect the latest in design advances, fully addressing accessibility, sustainable construction (LEED), and the provision of a healthy, safe and secure environment for students, teachers and staff. The scope of the new, 183,800 square foot facility includes a new academic wing, new athletics areas, fine arts, dining & kitchen, and media center with portions of Career & Technology Education (CTE), as well as new athletic fields and additional parking. Ann Richards School was the highest dollar value within the bond.
Looking at the final product, it’s hard to imagine that the ARS Stars used the previously facility for so many years. The new school is modern, bright, open, and inviting, but also seamlessly blends with the learning and collaboration happening within its walls. It has a modern, yet timeless look to it, and was designed to last years. From the materials chosen to the finishes installed, the end goal of providing current and future students and faculty with a state-of-the-art school is evident. The RO team’s diligence in ensuring that the job was done right, even if it meant having to re-do the work, does not go unnoticed.
The “neighborhoods” built within the school that house each grade level will continue to expand nimbly and flexibly as needs change throughout the years. This is due to the forethought of the design team and RO team to ensure the partitions can withstand the ebbs and flows of a learning environment.
The pops of color inside the building add life to the bustling school. On the exterior, the new track and field proudly boasts the Ann Richards Star’s logo in the center, a far cry from the previously undersized track that came before it.
Overall, the building tells the students that they are welcome here. That their ideas are valued, and their questions have a safe space to be asked. It is special to know that the students who came before them had a hand in creating the space that they will learn and grow in.
Hard hats off to the entire project team for not only delivering the ARS Stars a high-end school, but for also going the extra mile when it came to communication and student involvement.
- 183,800 SF
- Sustainable construction
- Highest dollar value in 2017 bond program
- 2021 AGC Outstanding Construction Award recipient
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