ACC Highland Campus
Austin Community College District
Austin Community College is a critical resource for Central Texas and essential to the success of the statewide initiative, “Closing the Gaps.” The college has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years, and in an effort to keep pace with space demands, it purchased the one-million-square-foot Highland Mall—Austin’s first indoor shopping mall—in central Austin. The mall, which opened in 1971, had prospered for almost four decades before going into decline.
Hired by the college, BGKA worked with a public/private partnership and the City of Austin in a multi-phased development to transform the mall into a new urban educational campus and the mall’s parking lots into a mixed-use development that will surround the new campus and create a major new precinct near downtown.
Phase One of the redevelopment includes the renovation of the old JCPenney department store, transforming the 200,000-square-foot, 40-year-old “big box” retail environment into a new innovative campus center and establishing the architectural character for all future phases. The design advances innovative educational delivery models such as the 600-seat, 40,000-square-foot math emporium, the “ACCelerator,” which represents a new and revolutionary approach to the delivery of education, yielding greater student success and reduced expenses for the Owner. The project also marks a major step forward in the urban renewal of a previously declining urban neighborhood while providing a new sustainable tax base for the community.
World Architecture News – Sustainable Buildings Award (Long List), 2017
City of Austin Imagine Austin Program – Spotlight Award, 2016
World Architecture News – Education Award (Short List), 2016
AIA Austin – Design Award, 2015
Urban Land Institute (ULI) – Impact Award, 2015
Austin Business Journal – Best Project of the Year Award, 2015
World Architecture News – Adaptive Reuse Award (Commended), 2015
Associated Builders and Contractors – Excellence in Construction Award, 2015
Austin Chronicle – Best Mall Overhaul, 2014
In addition to winning multiple awards, ACC Highland Phase I achieved LEED Gold Certification, raising the bar for sustainable design by diverting 1.2 Msf of building waste destined for landfills. Being an adaptive reuse project, the Highland Learning Center represents the epitome of sustainable building construction, reusing about 90% of the existing structure. It incorporates an impressive rainwater collection system, utilizing all of the project’s roofs to supplement cooling tower make-up water, sewage conveyance, and landscape irrigation. The roofs are highly reflective for reducing the heat-island effect as well as interior cooling costs. Infrastructure was put in place for installing solar panels, and within the building, green furniture improves indoor air quality for occupants.