SHW Group, one of the leading architectural, engineering, and planning firms in the nation, recently met with some of Waxahachie Global High’s aspiring architecture and engineering students.
When representatives from the firm came to tour Global’s beautiful historical campus a couple of months ago, administration approached them about returning to present on the field of architecture.
Jarrett Fullington, a senior at Waxahachie Global High, worked with SHW Group to plan the seminar presentation, which took place the morning of Dec. 7.
Konrad Judd and Terry Hoyle shared insight on one of their most recent projects, the Gilliam Collegiate Academy in Dallas.
The architectural reasoning behind the design of the building was discussed, and pictures were shown to help Global Highs students realize how successful architectural planning can completely transform an atmosphere.
Architecture is more than just sizing and locating rooms. It is about defining space, emulating feelings, and creating experiences.
When SHW Group designed the Gilliam Academy, creating a collegiate atmosphere was key.
They met with parents, students, teachers, district administration, college representatives and community members to get their input.
The architects told the stakeholders to imagine they were on a college campus. Then, they asked what the stakeholders saw, smelled, heard, and felt that let them know they were in a collegiate environment.
Responses, such as a sense of freedom, the smell of plants/flowers, and comfortable furniture were provided, all aspects that were worked into the final design of DISD’s new high school.
For example, small breakout spaces with comfortable furniture can be found throughout the building for students to collaborate and work on projects, but they are framed in with glass walls so students don’t feel like they are being “watched” but they can still be “seen.”
SHW Group shared pictures of “the perch,” a room they designed for the Gilliam Academy that cantilevers over the open space between the blocks of classrooms.
It is purposely placed on the second floor, where underclassmen are primarily located, so teachers can directly encourage/remind students about tutoring.
Upperclassmen are mostly located on the first floor, so they have to make an effort to go upstairs and seek out help, which helps them prepare for college expectations.
Considering Waxahachie Global High is an Early College High School, where college expectations are the norm, the push for students to seek out help and find solutions on their own is familiar.
When asked what the hardest part was about being an architect, one of the presenters discussed how difficult it is to make design decisions based on the customer’s preferences and desires instead of their own personal opinions/taste.
This was something that many of the Global High students could relate to.
In Global High’s civil engineering and architecture class, the students had to survey a classmate (acting as their client) about their preferences and then design a Habitat for Humanity house based on residential codes, Habitat requirements, universal design, and their client’s preferences.
The speakers also talked about the requirements for becoming a licensed architect, and they expressed the importance of teamwork in the field of architecture.
One of the speakers explained that he is typically focused on the project management tasks of a project while the other speaker typically focuses on the architectural elements.
The one thing that everyone comes together for, however, is problem solving.
This was reassuring for Global High students to hear considering most of their work is project/team based, and becoming better problem solvers is a school-wide focus.
Global High students that have completed or are currently taking civil engineering and architecture, one of the six engineering courses offered by Global High, also recognized other topics that were discussed, such as LEED requirements and principles of design.
The students were excited to meet industry professionals and see real-world applications of the knowledge and skills they are learning in class.
The SHW Group was founded in 1945 and is often ranked by Engineering News Record in the top five firms in educational design.
Locally, they have played a part in the redesign of Marvin Elementary and the design of Wedgeworth and the Ninth Grade Academy.
Waxahachie Global High is a public Early College High School campus with a limited, maximum class size of 100 students per grade. Enrollment is open each fall to incoming freshman applicants from Waxahachie ISD, homeschool and private school students as well as public school students from the Metroplex area. Throughout the year, the school welcomes applications and provides campus visits for interested students and parents both within and outside of the Waxahachie Independent School District. For more information on Waxahachie Global High, or to schedule a campus tour and receive an application, contact the school office at 972-923-4761. Global High is located at 600 W. Second St. in Waxahachie.