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Project File: Career education

Carl Wunsche Sr. High School, Spring, Texas, is the result of a four-month visioning process conducted by school board members, district administrators, teachers, parents and students. Once they articulated a vision, the architect designed a career academy that integrates instruction in core subjects with studies in career fields to provide students with a relevant, real-world context for 21st-century learning. The design empowers educators to teach in a new way.

The facility features three career pods, instead of classrooms, that are either open cubical space or glass-encased, allowing students to see into one another's learning environments.

“This makes learning exciting,” says Debi Koch, principal. “Students get to show off their work, and other students are motivated by what they see. It fosters a sense of respect among our students and adds to the feel of collaboration and openness.”

The three career academies for legal, business and child studies; technology; and medical and biological services each serve about 500 students. Hands-on education is offered at the childcare center, veterinary clinic, culinary kitchen and automotive garage. There also is a television studio with broadcast-quality cameras and production equipment, and a state-certified courtroom, as well as numerous computer labs for graphic design, engineering, AutoCAD and other programming courses.

The architect for this project is SHW Group (Houston).

Start: March 2005

Completion: December 2006

Project area: 273,178 sq. ft.

Cost: $31,078,700

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