Work Begins on Houston’s Energy Institute High School

HOUSTON — A groundbreaking ceremony was held November 19 to mark the beginning of construction on the new Energy Institute High School in Houston. The new $37 million concept high school is set to open in the second quarter of 2018, and will be modeled after a high-tech, corporate environment.

Energy Institute High School originally opened in 2013 as the first magnet school in the country to offer a school-wide energy theme, according to project architect VLK Architects, with three Texas offices in Houston, Fort Worth and El Paso. The school emphasizes project-based learning, an educational concept that helps students to hone their critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills by having them work collaboratively with peers rather than independently. Specifically, students focus on one of three pathways: geosciences, alternative energy and offshore technology. The school aims to integrate updated technology in learning, to help students develop 21st century skills through project-based learning and to expose students to the energy industry.

“Our goal is to graduate a different kind of kid in a very different type of building,” said Energy Institute High School Principal Lori Lambropoulos in a statement.

The new Energy Institute will span approximately 110,000 square feet and will accommodate 800 students. A central courtyard will feature cascading stairs and a trellis visible from the front entry. These areas will be surrounded by three main, multi-level buildings with flexible student workspaces and a high degree of transparency throughout classrooms and corridors. Planning for the new school began in 2013 and the design phase was completed in 2015.

“We are very excited for this new concept facility,” said Tim Kunz, senior associate and project director at VLK Architects’ Houston office, in a statement. “It will include a majority of science and technology labs since this building’s layout is based on the students’ Project Based Learning education.”

Other highlights from the ceremony included student-engineered robots tasked with formally breaking ground at the site and the group signing of one of the project’s metal beam. The beam will help form the frame of the new building and will remain an important part of the school structure.

The new Energy Institute will be located in Houston’s Third Ward, just west of downtown, and is expected to become a vital part of the surrounding community.