ORIGINALLY POSTED 10/01/2017 |
FROM THE FALL 2017 ISSUE
Turning the original Fox Tech building—a vocational training facility built in the 1930s—into a high-tech haven for bright teenage students was no small feat. Dropped ceilings were removed, clutter was cleared, and natural light became a focal point. Beyond the bricks, however, the CAST Tech facility ingeniously integrates technology.
“When I first saw it, it looked like an old, dingy warehouse,” admits Carmen Fies, UTSA’s educator in residence at the high school. “They’ve gutted that building. The H-E-B architects did a phenomenal job in conceptualizing that space as one that’s inviting, that’s filled with light, and that has spaces that are fluid. During the course of the day, the students almost have a ‘café’ experience.”
Designed by architectural teams from H-E-B and the San Antonio Independent School District, here are a few highlights from CAST Tech’s facility:
• Varied Classrooms: Each classroom includes three areas designed to encourage learning and problem solving in different ways. One area emphasizes traditional teacher-led instruction. Another includes a conference table built for peer collaboration. A third provides private cubicles built for independent study.
• Learning Staircase: Inspired by a similar model at Rackspace’s San Antonio office, CAST Tech’s large staircase essentially doubles as stadium-style seating. The staircase is intended to serve as both a gathering and presentation space that will be frequently used when industry leaders stop by for speeches and Q&A sessions.
• Open Spaces: Where most classrooms have walls, CAST Tech’s classrooms have windows. Whether they’re typing code from one of the school’s casual sofas or developing an app from a formal computer lab, the exposed infrastructure gives students the chance to check in on their peers and explore more learning opportunities.
• Darkening Windows: The school’s exterior windows are crafted from dynamic glass that darkens in response to intensity of the sun, bringing in a level of light that avoids an overbearing glare on computer monitors.