LPA-Designed High School Renovation Earns Top San Antonio Honors

The renovation of historic Sidney Lanier High School in San Antonio earned three top awards at the recent 2022 AIA San Antonio Design Awards, including recognition for community impact and excellence in sustainable design.

First opened in 1915, Lanier was a fortress-like two-story, brick-clad building with windowless classrooms. LPA’s integrated design team removed the roof and top section of the walls to add clerestory windows and create an atrium and open entryway. Shared central spaces with stadium seating were added, learning areas were filled with natural light and zones were created to support different curriculums.

The design was awarded the Design Award for Historic Preservation, Restoration and Renovation and the Community Impact Award. The Community Impact Award specially recognizes projects “for social equity in publicly funded projects.” In addition, to recreating the interior learning spaces, the design celebrated the school’s history, including recognition of murals that helped develop the well-established mural culture of San Antonio’s Westside.

This project was always a community effort. We were all focused on how we could preserve this historic school and still meet the needs of educators and students.

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LPA Design Coordinator I Melanie Bartholomew with the AIA San Antonio trophies.

The Community Impact award was awarded to LPA “in recognition of their work to renovate this community educational asset to ensure that its building program offers next generation flexible learning spaces in a building that is safe and secure,” AIA-San Antonio said in the award announcement. “In particular, the sensitive recreation of the existing building’s most significant murals reinforces and strengthens the school’s status as the ‘Pride of the Westside.’”

“This project was always a community effort,” says LPA Project designer Federico Cavazos. “We were all focused on how we could preserve this historic school and still meet the needs of educators and students.”

The project was also selected for a COTE award, the industry’s top honor for sustainable designed excellence. Passive design elements and enhancements to energy and HVAC systems will cut the school’s future energy bill by 60%. (LPA recently won two COTE awards at the AIA-OC awards.)

One juror described the project as a “very brutalist bunker, successfully transformed into an education building.” Another called it “an interesting remnant, turned into something great.”

Projects in the AIA San Antonio design awards were judged by design leaders from around the country.