East Central HS Performing Arts Center Earns AIA San Antonio Mayor’s Award

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) San Antonio chapter named LPA’s East Central High School Performing Arts Center project as the recipient of the 2019 Mayor’s Choice Award at the chapter’s People + Place Celebration held on Nov. 19 in the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio.

The Mayor’s Choice Award, hand-selected by the mayor of San Antonio, celebrates excellence in publicly funded projects in Bexar County. The award, presented this year by Mayor Ron Nirenberg, was first awarded in 2000 and to date has recognized 18 notable projects, from school additions to libraries and fire Stations.

”The East Central High School project was a collaboration with the campus and the community and it's wonderful to see it recognized by AIA San Antonio and Mayor Nirenberg," said LPA Project Architect and Associate Federico Cavazos.

The design for the Performing Arts Center was inspired by the theater production process. All the production rooms in the 37,500-square-foot building—from costume design to scene creation—are arranged in a circle with broad windows, allowing students, parents and the community to get an up-close look at the behind-the-scenes activity. The building seeks to be a teaching tool, displaying each phase along the path to a performance in sequence as a “feedback loop” around the auditorium.

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Carlos Constantino (L) and Federico Cavazos (C) with San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg (R)

On the exterior, vertical fins and roof overhangs were used to mitigate the harsh South Texas sun, while maximizing natural light. The emphasis on daylight in key areas such as the lobby and rehearsal room provides long-term energy cost savings, lowering the lighting load on the building. LPA’s design improved efficiency by nine percent from initial projections, freeing up financial resources for advanced acoustics and technology in the theater. The AIA award is the latest in a long line of honors for the San Antonio studio.

Earlier this year, the renovation of the San Antonio office was named Green Project of the Year by the San Antonio Business Journal. The studio redesigned a long-vacant industrial space into a 10,300-square-foot LEED Platinum-certified collaborative office space with energy monitoring, daylighting and innovative indoor air quality and water strategies.

The 2019 AIA San Antonio Design Awards also were the first in the country to more highly rate projects with a sense of environmental sustainability through a new application form, according to coverage in the San Antonio Express News.

“We now have other chapters ready to follow in (AIA San Antonio’s) footsteps,” said Anne Schopf, a member of the AIA’s National Committee on the Environment Advisory Group, told the paper.