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Huckabee celebrates 2018

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Huckabee celebrated another great year with our annual Christmas festivities. Not one, not two, but three parties took place for our teams across Texas. More than 400 combined guests—which included employees from our five offices and their loved ones—gathered to enjoy food, fun and togetherness.

This is one of our favorite times of the year, a time when we reflect on the incredible people we’ve met, projects we’ve embarked on and experiences we’ve shared. At each party, there was a deep sense of gratitude in the air. As a firm, we are so thankful for each other, for an incredible 2018 and for the opportunity we have to promote the success of all students.

During the events, our team honored employees for years of service and achievement. Notably, Huckabee recognized Josh Brown, Vice President and Director of Dallas, and Will Smith, Associate Principal, for 15 years of service. Josh and Will have held multiple roles within Huckabee, both providing impact to our team and clients.

Congratulations to Josh, Will and all of our colleagues who were recognized for their years of service!

  • Josh Brown, 15 years of service
  • Will Smith, 15 years of service
  • Devin Wilson, 10 years of service
  • Brian Eilerts, five years of service
  • Matthew Perez, five years of service
  • Becky Petter, five years of service
  • Heather Bryce, five years of service
  • Jason Andrus, five years of service
  • Mike Vermeeren, five years of service
  • Ray Dameron, five years of service
  • Hans Schmidt, five years of service
  • Josh Gomez, five years of service
  • Ricardo Davalos, five years of service
  • Konrad Judd, five years of service
  • David Anderson, five years of service
  • Kerri Ranney, five years of service
  • Crystal Vasquez, five years of service
  • Kenny Martin, five years of service
  • Walter Medrano, five years of service
  • Heather Barksdale, five years of service
  • John Papa, five years of service
  • Susan Carter, five years of service

This year, Mike Hall, our Austin Director of Design, was honored with the Huckabee Achievement Award; this prestigious award recognizes an individual who is characterized by their dedication to our clients and our team. Mike embodies our core values; he consistently demonstrates exceptional client focus and always looks to improve our firm.

This year’s WHOA Award was bestowed on Jeff Bryant, Regional Structural Engineer, in Fort Worth. The WHOA Award is a special distinction that recognizes an individual who “took hold of the reins” and expertly guided the team with wisdom, integrity and spirit; the award honors the legacy of Jerry Hammerlun, a dear colleague and friend who left us too early in 2017. Jeff was critical to our team this year, and we were pleased to recognize his unwavering integrity, ability to manage challenges and commitment to excellence.

LEsolutions Award

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Huckabee and Georgetown ISD recently received a 2018 LEsolutions Planning and Design Award in the new learning category for George Wagner Middle School. The LEsolutions Planning and Design Awards recognize excellent learning environments that are the result of a thoughtful, thorough planning process. We are honored to receive this award and excited to share it with all the individuals who came together to make this project a reality.

Wagner Middle School was part of a district-wide initiative to redefine the Learner Profile for students in Georgetown ISD. Community members, teachers, students and other stakeholders engaged in meaningful dialogue through educational summits, surveys and interviews to arrive at a new Learner Profile—one that emphasized choice, customization and innovation.

The new Learner Profile ignited an exciting, highly-collaborative planning and design process. The team was fully invested, making sure everything about Wagner Middle School pointed back to the district’s vision of an innovative and inquisitive learner. As a result, the final design embodies a place of purpose and exploration, a place that gives students freedom and responsibility in choosing how they learn.

Within the school, academics are broken into three learning neighborhoods with movable glass walls in the classrooms for maximum flexibility. The campus features multiple collaboration zones—including a large learning stair in the cafeteria and commons—for teachers and students. Outdoor learning spaces, a makerspace and a video lab are just some of the ways students can experience learning and embrace creativity.

To read more and view Huckabee’s winning submission, click here.

About the LEsolutions Awards

The LEsolutions Awards recognize learning environments that positively impact learning and teaching and that inspire change and forward progress. The group behind these awards is the Association for Learning Environments (A4LE), a non-profit whose sole mission is to improve the places where children learn. A4LE believes that great schools are the result of an interactive planning process, and the LEsolutions Awards highlight schools that came about through sound planning and skillful design.

AIA Honor Design Award

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The new Godley High School received a 2018 American Institute of Architecture (AIA) Fort Worth Honor Design Award. AIA is an organization that represents the collective voice of architecture and advocates for a better built environment; AIA’s Awards recognize excellence in contemporary architecture and seek to highlight the ways in which buildings and spaces amaze, inspire and improve lives. Huckabee is proud to share this honor with the individuals who came together to envision Godley High School. We are grateful for Godley’s administration, students and community and their participation and enthusiasm surrounding the project.

Godley High School opened in Fall 2018 and supports a district-wide initiative to evolve educational delivery and create a cohesive learning experience. The design of the school centers around the Center for Learning & Innovation, a large core space that features a café, library, collaboration rooms with movable walls, a film room, learning stair and access to the outdoors. The school also wraps around the district stadium, creating a unique viewing experience for athletic events and allowing the school’s commons and outdoor courtyards to double as public-use space. Throughout GHS, engaging collegiate spaces and flexible elements empower students, emphasize choice and encourage collaborative learning. 

Wagner MS Caudill Class

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George Wagner Middle School in Georgetown ISD was named a finalist for the Caudill Class, the highest honor awarded as part of the TASA / TASB Exhibit of School Architecture competition. The school received four Stars of Distinction in Design, Community, Planning and School Transformation. Within the same district, Purl Elementary School received three Stars of Distinction, situating GISD as the only school district with two recognitions for 2018-2019.

Wagner Middle School opened in 2017. It’s a beautiful and exciting campus that is playing a critical role in Georgetown ISD’s evolution toward choice, customization and innovation in instruction. The design was the result of a comprehensive planning process that unified ideas from school leaders, community members, students and educators. Huckabee is honored to share this incredible recognition with the many people who imagined what Wagner could become.

The configuration of the school emphasizes choice and shared learning. Academics are split into “dens” for 6th grade, STEM and humanities. Each den features classrooms, labs, flex space, a teacher design lab and outdoor patio. The district removed classroom ownership to support more collaborative and customized instruction, requiring the dens to be highly adaptable and suitable for use by multiple teachers with a variety of curriculum needs and student learning styles.

Dens surround a 2-story commons that brings learning, socialization, assembly and collaboration together into one space. The team prioritized transparency as a way to promote personal responsibility for students and passive supervision for teachers. They adopted a use for all common areas and corridors by using furniture to maximize space for learning.

Wagner Middle School is progressive not just in design, but in how educators approach instruction. The learning environment supports autonomy, trust, responsibility and a more project-based approach. The enthusiasm for learning is noticeable in the way students buzz around the building, accessing every nook and cranny to design their learning experience.

About the Exhibit of School Architecture

Wagner Middle School is one of four Huckabee projects to be recognized in the Exhibit of School Architecture competition. GISD’s Purl Elementary School also received multiple Stars of Distinction in the categories of Community, Planning and School Transformation. Fort Bend ISD’s James Patterson Elementary School and Kaufman ISD’s Kaufman High School received recognition for School Transformation.

The Exhibit of School Architecture awards are given at the discretion of a 12-member jury, which includes: four school board members, four administrators, two representatives from the Texas Society of Architects and two representatives from the Association for Learning Environments (A4LE). To be eligible for consideration for the 2018 Exhibit of School Architecture, projects had to be newly constructed or renovated public education facilities completed in the past five years.

About the Caudill Class

The Caudill Class is reserved for projects that received four or more Stars of Distinction. It is the TASA / TASB Exhibit of School Architecture’s highest recognition and is named after Texas architect William Wayne Caudill (1914–1983), whose progressive concepts continue to influence school design. Winners will be announced in January.

Exhibit of School Architecture

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Huckabee is excited to announce that Fort Bend ISD’s James Patterson Elementary School, Kaufman ISD’s Kaufman High School, Georgetown ISD’s Annie Purl Elementary School and Georgetown ISD’s George Wagner Middle School received Stars of Distinction for the TASA / TASB Exhibit of School Architecture competition. It’s a recognition we are proud to share with our incredible partners! The awards highlight excellence in planning and design of learning environments.

Patterson Elementary School and Kaufman High School received recognition for School Transformation. Purl Elementary School received Stars of Distinction for Community, Planning and School Transformation. Wagner Middle School received the highest honor, being noted in the categories of Design, Community, Planning and School Transformation and qualifying for the prestigious Caudill Class. Notably, Georgetown ISD was the only school district to receive honors for multiple schools.

Finalists in the Caudill Class are selected based on receiving four or more Stars of Distinction. The award is the highest level of recognition for the competition and is named after influential Texas architect William Wayne Caudill (1914-1983). The winner will be announced in January.

About the Award-Winning Projects

Each of these schools was the result of a thoughtful planning and design process, and each feature unique attributes that inspire, excite and influence learning.

Patterson Elementary School in Fort Bend ISD is a LEED certified campus. The design creates a more engaging and collaborative space, where students and teachers break out of the classroom for instruction. “Learning pockets” are found throughout, from the 2-story library with flexible furniture, to bench seating in corridors, collab space in classroom wings and an outdoor garden and patio.

Kaufman High School underwent a complete transformation. Multiple buildings were brought under a single roof with unifying elements such as an open and collaborative bistro / library / commons. A new performing arts center, competition gymnasium and CTE wing established a more comprehensive campus. Notably, CTE programs were elevated with the inclusion of a state-of-the-art culinary kitchen, robotics labs and television studio.

The design of Purl Elementary School is inspired by the nearby town square. Classroom wings surround a high-volume commons in the same way storefronts surround the county courthouse, creating a central hub of activity. While interior finishes, furniture and function take a modern form, exterior detailing borrows from the aesthetic of the community’s historic buildings. This community-driven school also features a unique volunteer lab in the secure entry vestibule.

At Wagner Middle School, the configuration emphasizes choice and shared learning. Students have a home base in one of three “dens” for STEM, humanities and 6th grade. They have the ability to spill out from dens into collaborative workspace, outdoor space, the commons, corridors, a maker space and the library. Transparency is critical to the model, and the design of classrooms, teacher design labs and common areas emphasize sightlines and connectivity.

The award-winning projects, along with other projects submitted, will be displayed at the TASA / TASB Exhibit of School Architecture at the annual convention on Sept. 28-30 in Austin. To learn more, visit www.texasschoolarchitecture.org.

About the Exhibit of School Architecture

The Exhibit of School Architecture awards are given at the discretion of a 12-member jury, which includes: four school board members, four administrators, two representatives from the Texas Society of Architects and two representatives from the Association for Learning Environments (A4LE). To be eligible for consideration for the 2018 Exhibit of School Architecture, projects had to be newly constructed or renovated public education facilities completed in the past five years.

Huckabee Profiled by AIA

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AIA National featured Huckabee in its most recent newsletter, interviewing our CEO, Chris Huckabee, about how our focus on education led to record growth over the past couple of decades. In the article entitled, “This Texas firm survived a downturn by solving problems beyond design,” Chris shares about Huckabee’s culture of learning, our commitment to Texas education and how innovation in our service offerings led to more opportunity. Read the article, here.

Huckabee Ranked in ENR Top 500

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This year, Huckabee again ranked amongst Engineering News Record’s Top 500 Design Firms, climbing 13 spots. The list ranks A/E firms across the nation based on revenue for design services performed in the past year. Huckabee continues to see growth throughout the company, and we have increased our staff, expanded our offerings and grown our regional office presence in recent years. Notably, in the past year, Huckabee relocated our Dallas office to Granite Park in Plano, a thriving live-work-play community that will allow for future growth and encompasses our culture of creative and engaging work environments. We also launched the second iteration of our educational research lab, LEx Labs.

In 2017, Huckabee celebrated 50 years of business. Starting off with only 10 employees in the company, Huckabee has grown to over 250 employees in 6 offices throughout Texas, completing over 3,500 projects. Our dedication to Texas education has led Huckabee to be a leader in learning environments and a trusted advisor to many. Huckabee’s growth is due to the trust our clients impart in us and our unwavering commitment to students, educators and communities. We love what we do and who we do it for!

Click here to view the full list of ENR’s Top 500 Design Firms.

Huckabee Opens New Office

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We’re excited to announce the re-opening of our Huckabee Dallas office, located in Granite Park in Plano, a vibrant live, work, play community. The location is near the epicenter of booming development in North Dallas and provides easy access to our clients across the region. It is the latest of our office spaces to be redesigned and relocated to meet the needs of our team and our partners. Our new base provides us with more space to grow, more space to collaborate, more space to engage with clients and more space to gather and enjoy a cup of coffee.

“The opportunity to grow in this way, to offer these environments to our team and our clients is a direct result of their shared work and commitment to Texas education,” said Josh Brown, Vice President and Director of Dallas. “We practice what we preach. Schools today are more collaborative and more personalized than ever. Our efforts to re-think our work environments embrace the same ideals we talk to our clients about—shared experiences, flexibility, opportunity and a holistic approach.”

In true Huckabee style, the design embraces our brand in form and function. From the signature neon “More Than Architects” sign and pops of red to an open work environment, sit-to-stand desks and a custom crit bar. A coffee bar sits up front, leading into a large workspace with floor to ceiling views. A premium is placed on shareable spaces that feature writable surfaces, technology and comfortable seating. Environmental graphics, signage and design touches elevate the space. Reflective film lines the glass of each conference room, creating a spectrum of colors that change as you move.

Above all, the space represents Huckabee’s commitment to creative and engaging work environments; places where Huckabee-ans and our partners can be inspired.

“Our workspaces are important to us,” said Josh. “They are places for our team and our clients to bring their ideas to life. We have a very connected and collaborative culture; it’s one of the first things you recognize when you walk into any one of our offices.”

Huckabee has offices in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston, in addition to an educational research facility at Baylor University. The Dallas office is located at Granite Park Building 5, 5830 Granite Parkway, Suite 750 in Plano, Texas.

Inaugural WHOA Award Presented

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At this year’s Christmas party, our leadership team presented the inaugural WHOA Award, a recognition created in memory of our friend and colleague, Jerry Hammerlun. Jerry joined Huckabee in 2001 and served our firm, our team and our clients with integrity, focus and enthusiasm. He was an incredible man whose legacy lives on in so many ways.

The WHOA Award is a special distinction that recognizes an individual who “took hold of the reins” and expertly guided the team with wisdom, integrity and spirit—in the same way that Jerry guided our team throughout his tenure at Huckabee. The honor was bestowed on Larry Cousin in our Fort Worth office. Larry was critical to our team this year, and we were pleased to recognize his contribution, commitment and wisdom.

The award was originally presented to Jerry many years ago by Chris Huckabee in the form of actual reins. Our founder, Tommie Huckabee, felt the reins needed a place to rest, aptly, a horse. Tommie, a skilled woodworker, sculpted the piece as a gift to Jerry. The reins were a perfect fit, and the award became a legacy, referred to as others at Huckabee exhibited similar fortitude and ingenuity. Its resurgence is one of the many ways that Jerry continues to touch our lives.

Huckabee Achievement Awards

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As our 50th year came to a close, we took one more opportunity to celebrate as a family at our annual Christmas party. More than 350 people gathered for the celebration, which brought together employees and their loved ones from each of our five offices. It’s one of our favorite events of the year, a time when we reflect on the incredible people we’ve met, projects we’ve embarked on and experiences we’ve shared. 

During the event, our team honored employees for years of service and achievement. Notably, Huckabee recognized Daren Kirbo for 20 years of service. Daren joined the firm in the summer of 1997, working first in Stephenville and later in Fort Worth before opening our Austin office in 2011. He is beloved by our team and clients, and he is known for his spirit and deep care for each of the communities he serves.

Congratulations to Daren and all of our colleagues who were recognized for their years of service!

  • Erin Evans, five years of service
  • Courtney Foster, five years of service
  • Brian Green, five years of service
  • Lauren Hoyle, five years of service
  • Laura McCollum, five years of service
  • Megan Smith, five years of service
  • Levi Swinney, five years of service
  • Roberto Zuniga, five years of service
  • Jay Graham, 10 years of service
  • Pam Riley, 10 years of service
  • Daren Kirbo, 20 years of service

During the event, our team had the privilege of recognizing a dear colleague and friend who left us too early in 2017. In memory of Jerry Hammerlun, we established the WHOA Award, a special distinction that recognizes an individual who “took hold of the reins” and expertly guided the team with wisdom, integrity and spirit—in the same way that Jerry guided our team throughout his tenure at Huckabee. The honor was bestowed on Larry Cousin in our Fort Worth office. Larry was critical to our team this year, and we were pleased to recognize his commitment and wisdom.

Other employees were honored with the Huckabee Achievement Award and the Best Practices Award. The prestigious Achievement Award recognizes an individual who is characterized by their commitment to excellence and dedication to our clients and to our team. It was presented to Les Reddin from our Austin office, an individual who represents all of these attributes and more. The Best Practices Award was given to Javier Rosero in Houston for taking an innovative approach to establishing new ideas and processes.