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Future ready education

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NEWS // 04.25.17

Future ready learning starts at the elementary level

Elementary schools have a new look as educational models shift toward project-based learning, STEAM and authentic exploration. Design solutions are supporting flexible functionality while mirroring aesthetics found in secondary and higher education facilities. Choice is also a prevalent theme—from furniture selection to classroom size to outdoor learning to collaborative spaces.   

These types of adaptable learning environments have proven to encourage deeper engagement on a peer-to-peer and student-to-teacher level. They also foster the development of foundational skills that are critical to positive academic, work and life experiences—essentially, supporting students as they become future ready.

For example, modern design embraces exploration and collaboration. These experiences promote responsibility, leadership and team building skills. Learning environments that empower teacher as facilitator also empower the development of accountability, responsibility and creativity for students.

At the elementary level, this speaks to the process and not the product of learning. Huckabee’s clients are embracing this culture shift and working to instill a love of learning for our youngest students. Four examples of how this idea manifests through design are found in new elementary schools in Huffman, Dripping Springs, Georgetown and Grapevine-Colleyville ISDs.

Huffman ISD—Love of Learning from the Outside In
HISD’s new elementary school provides an immersive learning environment indoors and outdoors. They’ve sought out partnerships, including one with Texas Parks & Wildlife, to create learning opportunities from the moment you step onto the property line. Winding paths and outdoor classrooms set the stage for interactive and fun instruction. Inside, learning communities are designed to promote movement so that learning environments can change on a daily basis. Large windows connect the outdoors to interior spaces.

Dripping Springs ISD—Form, Function and Instruction 
Every space in Dripping Springs ISD’s new Sycamore Springs Elementary / Middle School supports authentic learning. It’s a modern environment filled with design elements that entice students to engage with and within the building—in formal and informal ways. Whether learning about how a building operates (wall sections are cut-out to reveal the mechanics behind piping systems), exploring how structural engineers create art pieces (sculptural element in the Center for Learning & Innovation combines STEM and humanities disciplines) or utilizing one of the many clean or dirty maker spaces, the facility encourages ongoing exploration for students and teachers alike.

Georgetown ISD—Redefining Student and Educator Culture
Georgetown ISD’s district-wide culture shift focuses on creating customization at all levels of education. At Purl Elementary School, this includes the use of movable walls, flexible furniture and open-concept learning environments that promote adaptable and shared learning. Teacher workrooms are designed as professional work environments where cross-teaming and collaboration are encouraged. Across the school, teams of teachers are responsible for the reservation, designation and utilization of space and student groups.

Grapevine-Colleyville ISD—Process, Not Product, of Learning
GCISD’s new Cannon Elementary School is designed for STEM and project-based learning. Within the campus, everything moves, creating an environment that is interactive, technology-driven and fun for young learners. Each space focuses on the process, not the product, of learning to support exploration, collaboration and ideation. Six learning pods can be broken into 1200 sf, 800 sf, 400 sf or 200 sf classrooms for small-group and large-group instruction. Learning is on display around every corridor. A grow garden provides vegetables for the lunch room, and an outdoor amphitheater turns into a community classroom. Aesthetically, the school more closely aligns with secondary education than it does with a traditional elementary school.

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Huckabee presenting at SXSWedu

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NEWS // 03.03.17

Kerri Ranney and Konrad Judd to present at SXSWedu 2017

Kerri Ranney, Huckabee’s Director of Learning & Strategic Development, and Konrad Judd, our Director of Design, are slated to present at SXSWedu 2017. Their topic, “Planning and Designing Learning Experiences” explores the planning and design process and its value on the development of learning environments that meet the needs of students and educators. It will cover important topics about the future of education and the roles of both students and educators in that shift. In addition, it will include the many layers of student choice and its impact on the overall learning experience.

The presentation will take place at 5 PM on Wednesday, March 8 at the JW Marriott in Austin in Salon C.

Kerri and Konrad are working with school districts to design some of the most progressive learning environments in Texas. They are helping clients meet the needs of 21st century learners and educators, as well as contributing to research at the classroom level that explores agility in education.

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Huckabee presenting at TASBO

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NEWS // 03.01.17

Granbury ISD and Huckabee to present at TASBO

Huckabee joins Granbury ISD to present “Furniture as a Learning Tool: Drawing Inspiration Beyond Education” at this year’s TASBO conference. The presentation will take place at 10:15 AM on March 2 at the Austin Convention Center. Our speakers include Amy Wood, Director of Technology Granbury ISD; Konrad Judd, our Director of Design; and Tami O’Neal, our Furniture Coordinator and Interior Designer.

Furniture as a Learning Tool: Drawing Inspiration Beyond Education

Furniture can make or break a learning environment. Its selection and use is key to creating an environment that engages learners, supports the profession of teaching and informs the use of the space. Looking beyond a traditional K-12 catalog, and seeking inspiration outside of education, increases value for students and teachers.

In Granbury ISD, the district used this approach to create huge impact for a major reconstruction of their high school—utilizing furniture and design to increase capacity, inspire collaboration, improve the professional environment for teachers and maximize the experience for students.

The district and design team discuss their approach and how they leveraged furniture and design choices as part of the renovation to deliver a 21st century educational environment for under $50 million.

Best Companies to Work For

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NEWS // 12.08.16

Huckabee named to FWinc’s “Best Companies to Work For”

Huckabee is more than a workplace. Our work community means many things to many people—from opportunity, integrity and growth to friendship, family and fun. It’s why we’re excited to be named to FWinc’s 2016 Best Companies to Work For! Of the many things Huckabee employees noted about why it’s an excellent place to work: our barista, our coffee, our employee events coordinator, our focus on professional development and growth, our culture of excellence, our wellness program, our team building activities and our mission. Click here to read to the story. And visit our careers page to learn more about opportunities at Huckabee.

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Austin Business Journal Spotlight

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NEWS // 10.05.15

Huckabee’s Austin office featured in Austin Business Journal

Austin Business Journal visited Huckabee’s local office to take a tour of the newly designed space, located in The Domain in northwest Austin. The article (click here to view) provides a visual tour of the space, which was designed by Gensler, an architecture firm known for creating exceptional work environments.

Huckabee has six offices in Texas, located in Fort Worth, Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and LEx Labs, our educational research lab, at Baylor University in Waco. Each space features a similar environment, making Huckabee feel like home regardless of where it’s located.

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Huckabee Named Giants 300 Top 10

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NEWS // 09.01.15

Huckabee named top 10 firm in Giants 300

Building Design + Construction magazine released the 2015 Giants 300 list, naming Huckabee #40 nationwide and #4 in the Top 10 K-12 School Sector for Architecture Firms. Of those recognized, Huckabee is one of the only firms that exclusively serves Texas educational clients.

The annual list is determined based on market-sector revenue, BIM revenue, green building work and other criteria. It represents the largest and most innovative firms in the architecture, engineering and construction fields. Huckabee has earned its spot as one of the leading architecture firms in the nation, having experienced record growth over the past five years. Since 2010, the firm has added regional locations to complement the corporate office in Fort Worth (including offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio) in addition to an educational research lab, LEx Labs, at Baylor University where the learning environment is being studied and explored.

“We continue to strengthen our presence—both in size and in innovation. Being recognized as a top firm is a reflection of these efforts, driven by our commitment to educational clients and the design of pioneering learning environments.”

Chris Huckabee, Chief Executive Officer, Huckabee
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Q & A with Konrad Judd

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NEWS // 08.25.15

Q & A with Konrad Judd: Designing a new junior high school for Alvarado ISD

Konrad-Judd-ColorFor 48 years, Huckabee has helped our clients achieve innovation and excellence in educational design, and as our company has grown over the years, we’ve continued to add best-in-class expertise to our team. In 2013, Huckabee welcomed Konrad Judd, an international thought leader in educational design, as our Director of Design. Together, we’ve continued our commitment to Texas students and Texas schools, providing innovation, value and flexible designs to meet emerging trends in educational delivery.

Konrad’s first project with Huckabee was the design of Alvarado ISD’s new junior high school. Konrad and his team helped the district realize their goals of merging project-based learning strategies with a traditional learning environment. The result is a modern facility that will act as a benchmark for future projects in the district.

The Huckabee team joined Alvarado ISD for a special ribbon cutting ceremony in August, opening the doors for the community to explore their newest instructional facility. The new building is exceptional, and we sat down with Konrad to talk about the project and how Huckabee’s design team is making an impact in education.

Q1: The district started off the conceptual process with the idea of designing a traditional learning facility; however, Alvarado JHS is anything but. How did Huckabee work with the district to re-envision their goals?

Huckabee’s planning and design process is very collaborative—with involvement from each of our design disciplines. We work with districts in their schools, scheduling design charrettes onsite with administrators, faculty and other stakeholders to talk through their educational delivery goals and present concepts and ideas for design. When we started talking with the district, we realized their goals leaned more toward modern, project-based learning strategies.

Our design team put together several concepts for the district’s review, and we decided to move forward with a facility that included innovative learning elements. The selections aligned well with what the district wanted to accomplish, long term. The process was a game-changer, and elements that are found in the junior high school will be used in future facilities.

Q2: Innovative elements are found throughout the facility. How did your design team incorporate these elements into the design?

The broad philosophy in educational circles right now focuses on breaking down schools into smaller environments, providing a shared and more personal experience for groups of students. Often, students feel overwhelmed in larger school environments.

In Alvarado ISD, staff and administrators decided to break down the junior high by grade level, creating two distinct spaces for 7th grade on the lower level and 8th grade on the second level. Each grade level is then separated into smaller academic pods that contain classrooms and labs that are centered on a living room or shared space. The shared space is connected vertically with the other grade level by a stairway, creating opportunities for students to interact and for 8th graders to mentor their younger counterparts.

Notably, the classrooms in each academic pod have a section of glass walls, creating transparency from classroom to the shared space. This concept of transparency is trending right now as schools are moving toward active learning environments that incorporate smaller doses of traditional stand-and-deliver teaching. Transparency enhances an active learning environment and mimics many aspects of the workplace, better preparing students for their future.

The team also incorporated outdoor learning courtyards for each grade level. These courtyards connect to the academic pods and feature comfortable seating and planter boxes that can be used for science experiments. Finding ways to connect the indoors with the outdoors, an important feature for student development.

Q3: One of the unique features in the facility is a Genius Lounge. But, what exactly is a Genius Lounge?

Huckabee’s Genius Lounge is a combination of Apple’s Genius Bar and a lounge you’d find at Starbucks or Barnes and Noble. The space is found inside the library and features soft seating and an open concept. As today’s students are using libraries differently than generations before them, we must find ways to maintain the value in these types of spaces by encouraging scholarship and collaboration. The Genius Lounge accomplishes this, providing a comfortable space where students act as peer-to-peer geniuses as they problem solve together.

Q4: The facility has a modern aesthetic. How did your team’s selections fit into the district’s design goals?

Alvarado ISD was open to a design that was more progressive and sophisticated, blending professional with academic aesthetics. We used glass, steel, metal and masonry on the exterior to create the modern look, while incorporating wood, soft seating and pops of color inside to make it comfortable and suitable for the students and the academic environment.

Throughout the building the design team also placed brightly colored way-finding “portals.” These portals are intended to help students, teachers and visitors easily find areas of importance such as the entrance to the media center and academic pods, as well as other collaborative learning spaces. They also provided an opportunity to add visual interest and incorporate the school’s colors into the design.

Q5: What’s next for Huckabee’s clients?

Huckabee’s design department is working on some really exciting projects right now that are changing the way our schools think about educational delivery. We are working hand-in-hand with our planning teams to research the learning environment and design transformational spaces. In Dripping Springs, Georgetown, Killeen and Kaufman ISDs, as well as others, we are changing the design of learning spaces to support the way instruction is being delivered with today’s modern activity strategies and open-concept / flexible environments. Alvarado ISD’s new junior high is a great example of how we’re partnering with schools to enhance instruction and build a future for our kids.

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Huckabee Opens New Corporate Digs

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NEWS // 08.05.15

Huckabee’s new corporate digs are nothing short of extraordinary

Huckabee has been voted “Best Place to Work,” numerous times—just ask our employees, and they’ll tell you why. We have passion, we have incredible work environments, we are committed to our craft and most importantly, we have amazing coffee (a critical factor when working with architects, engineers and creative types).

Over the past five years Huckabee has been in growth mode, growing our staff, our services and our offices—now with locations in Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Waco and Dallas, where we can provide personal services to our school district clients. And, with growth, comes innovation, and with innovation, comes an idea to design our workspace around what being a “Huckabeean,” really means. And what it really means, is really awesome.

Huckabee’s corporate headquarters relocated to its new, state-of-the-art office this week. Located in downtown Fort Worth, the 2-story Hucka-cool space embodies the firm’s commitment to excellence, designed to address the needs of our employees so they can focus on the needs of our clients. Walk in, and you’re greeted by Corey, our corporate barista. Take a seat in the Huckabean Cafe and he’ll make you a cup of coffee to start your day. Stop by on a Tuesday or Thursday at 3:30 p.m. and join in on the double shot happy hour (coffee only, thank you).

The lobby and coffee bar are the central hub of the office, offering flexible use space (and sweeping downtown views) for impromptu meetings, creative sessions, client meetings or a game of ping-pong in between marathon design sessions. The Huckabee brand is seen everywhere, from the custom-designed logo lights that highlight the staircase to color selections throughout and even in the tile selection for the magazine-worthy finishes in the restrooms.

“Each and every space in the office was tailored to fit the needs of our employees and to personify our brand,” said Chris Huckabee, CEO of the firm. “We are constantly on the move, constantly thinking and seeking inspiration. The office was designed to ignite this passion—providing a space that our employees can share with each other and share with clients.”

Sit-to-stand desks are used at each workstation and an open concept environment promotes teamwork. Collaboration pockets and workspaces are located throughout the building, featuring comfortable chairs and situated with the best views of downtown. Large, open workrooms are a designer’s dream, with wide expanses of counter surfaces, storage and natural light for Huckabee’s interior designers to select finishes and for the architectural and structural teams to review plans and drawings.

Modern and technology-rich, Huckabee’s new office is nothing short of incredible (according to Ken, an architectural intern, the only thing missing is a slide). Even more incredible, Huckabee’s offices across the state (in Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Waco and Dallas) feature similar environments, making Huckabee feel like home regardless of where it’s located.

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Huckabee Earns Top Industry Nods

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NEWS // 05.30.15

Huckabee earns top nods on industry lists

Huckabee was named a Zweig Group Hot Firm for 2015, being noted as one of the 100 fastest growing architecture firms in the United States and Canada. The list recognizes firms in the architecture, engineering, planning and environmental consulting professions that have “outperformed the economy and competitors to become leaders in their chosen fields.”

The firm was also recognized by Zweig Group as a Best Firm to Work For in 2015, placing number three on the list for architecture firms and number one for structural engineering firms. The Best Firm award recognizes excellence in workplace practices, employee benefits, retention rates and feedback from employees.

This summer, Huckabee was also named one of Engineering News Record’s Top 500 Design Firms, jumping to 360 from 421 in 2014. In the regional Texas-Louisiana edition, Huckabee ranked 43, up three spots over last year. This is the fourth consecutive year Huckabee has been recognized on these lists.