The North Oak Cliff neighborhood is a vital area within the city and offers many opportunities for synergistic relationships with the new middle school. Downtown amenities, city parks, and the Dallas Zoo with a DART rail stop are all located close by.

The available site area for Hector P. Garcia Middle School is a relatively constrained 13.4 acres. To facilitate the desired site program and parking requirements, the school is designed with a compact footprint, distributing the program on three floor levels.  The overall site plan identifies the shared use of the site with other nearby educational facilities as well as the sharing of particular site and building functions with the larger community.  The fully accessible facility is zoned strategically to allow public access to the gymnasium, library, cafeteria and performance venues during or after school hours. A student plaza is planned north and south of the building, connecting the parent drop, student bus drop and school entry.

Educationally, Hector Garcia Middle School is centrally positioned to be an asset to other DISD schools. James Bowie Elementary School is immediately north of the site. The school’s public areas are conveniently located to allow the elementary students the opportunity to utilize the middle school facilities. Additional opportunities to share resources are available as Hector P. Garcia Middle School is located just a few blocks from W.H. Adamson High School and Townview Magnet Center. In addition, a new elementary school was recently built southwest of the site.

Due to the limited land area at W.H. Adamson High School, the site program at Hector P. Garcia Middle School incorporates a collaborative athletic program including a football/soccer field, running track, softball field, tennis courts, batting cage, and outdoor basketball court.


Organized around three teams of students per grade level, fully accessible 1,200 student school is 175,000 square feet and includes academic spaces to support classroom instruction, sciences, technology, and world languages for traditional, interdisciplinary, and project-based instruction. A special education program has been planned for physically challenged students and is centrally located to allow the opportunity for special needs students to be included in the social life of the school. In addition, two suites of spaces are provided for flexible alternative education programs, supporting at-risk students, alternate learning styles and educational partnerships. Supporting and encouraging practical lifelong skills, the school offers flexible and technology enabled learning environments for career investigation, business education and family consumer sciences.

A middle school athletic program is provided as well as spaces to create, display, and perform the arts: 2d and 3d art programs; band, orchestra and choral music; and dramatic and performing arts. Providing an appropriate response to the local climate, classrooms, administration, and media center are expressed on the north side of the building, while the gym, auditorium, and cafeteria are expressed on the south side. Art, music, and special programs are centered around a courtyard on the south side of the building.  At the street level, a simple–yet engaging–streetscape is provided to reinforce the school’s role in re-invigorating the neighborhood culture.

Over their planned life spans, often extending through decades, school facilities experience a high degree of change in their expected use. The school is planned with flexible strategies to create a facility that will be useful and maintainable over its planned lifetime. For day-to-day flexibility, classrooms and support spaces are located to allow multiple-use in scheduling. Although the building is organized into teams, the layout allows the ability for teams to utilize adjacent classrooms as swing spaces to accommodate enrollment bubbles. While distinct from academic teams, alternative education suites are envisioned to evolve and change over time and are situated to allow these suites of classrooms to support the academic areas of the school.

The school is planned to facilitate an orderly flow of students during class changes. Distributed administrative and teacher planning areas create a strong interconnection between students and adults while creating opportunities for passive security throughout the facility. The central administration office is located at the main entry of the building, offering the ability to control visitor entry into the facility.


The school’s organization and massing reflects the organization of the program. Its architectural design expresses the social organization of the school. Aesthetically, the school is envisioned to express the forward-looking educational program while reflecting Dallas’ rich tradition of regional modernism and the skyline beyond. At the street level, the school provides an engaging streetscape to reinforce its role in re-invigorating the neighborhood environment. 

The creative use of brick, metal panels and simple window patterns support the limited budget.  To support a durable building, brick is located at the ground level while metal panels and large windows are located away from potential vandalism.  Locating classrooms to the north offers a gesture toward the skyline while capturing north daylighting for student learning.  The pattern and color of glass represent a modern interpretation to the local community and heritage.


Designed to reinforce the academic team structure, the building’s orientation responds naturally to the site’s climate. North facing classrooms offer stunning views to the skyline, take advantage of indirect north light for optimal daylighting, and minimize cooling demand by facing classrooms away from Texas’ harsh sun exposure.  Grouping classrooms along one exposure also allows a consistent temperature demand for similar academic spaces.

The building’s exposure to the east and west sun are minimized to further assist with cooling demand. The south facade buffers the southern sun. Program spaces organized to the south require minimal natural light and are situated with the ability to control the southern exposure with exterior sun shading devices.  Large volume instructional spaces are also located toward the south, allowing a direct connection to outdoor play areas.  As specified in the school’s program, art rooms are located with exterior access, allowing the opportunity for creating outdoor art projects and display.

The site landscape design facilitates an outdoor learning environment for students by reflecting the 10 natural regions of Texas.  These ‘regions’ utilize plant material that serves as a visual aid in the students’ learning process of the state’s natural botanical history.  The location of each region is determined by topography, program and climatic exposure.  The water efficient landscaping and drainage exceeds the city’s storm water protection plan. Street trees along the northern street boundary form a pedestrian buffer and create a surface to reflect the south sun into the student plaza and onto the building’s north facade.  The site development has transformed a blighted urban area into community green space.
Other sustainable features include the creation and collaborative link between education and community.  The school provides residents with spaces for events that previously had no common venue.  Families will be able to attend school functions such as PTA meetings, school performances and various school activities.  Additional opportunities include community meetings, election voting, club/group membership meetings, athletic events, and area social events and festivals.  The design allows the building to serve the community in flexible ways while giving the surrounding neighborhood a much needed face lift and identity.


A brief overview of the pursued LEED NC 2.1 credits utilized in the building is listed in the following table:

Sustainable Sites 5
Water Efficiency 1
Energy and Atmosphere 5
Materials and Resources 4
Indoor Environmental Quality 8
Innovation in Design 4
Total 27


A detailed breakdown of the individual credits achieved with the LEED Certification of the building is listed below:


  • SSp1 Erosion & Sedimentation Control
  • SSc1    Site Selection
  • SSc4.1    Alternative Transportation - Public Transportation Access
  • SSc4.2    Alternative Transportation - Bicycle Storage & Changing Rooms
  • SSc4.4    Alternative Transportation - Parking Capacity
  • SSc7.1    Landscape & Exterior Design to Reduce Heat Islands - Non Roof


  • WEc1.1    Water Efficient Landscaping - Reduce by 50%


  • EAp1    Fundamental Building Systems Commissioning
  • EAc1.1    Optimize Energy Performance  
  • EAc1.2    Optimize Energy Performance
  • EAc1.3    Optimize Energy Performance
  • EAc3    Additional Commissioning
  • EAc5    Measurement & Verification


  • MRp1    Storage & Collection of Recyclables
  • MRc4.1    Recycled Content - 5%
  • MRc4.2    Recycled Content - 10%
  • MRc5.1    Local / Regional Materials - 20% Manufactured Locally
  • MRc5.2    Local / Regional Materials - 50% Harvested Locally


  • IEQp1    Minimum IAQ Performance
  • IEQp2    Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) Control
  • IEQc1    Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Monitoring
  • IEQc4.1    Low-Emitting Materials - Adhesives & Sealants
  • IEQc4.3    Low-Emitting Materials - Carpet 
  • IEQc5    Indoor Chemical & Pollutant Source Control
  • IEQc7.1    Thermal Comfort - ASHRAE 55-1992
  • IEQc7.2    Thermal Comfort - Permanent Monitoring System
  • IEQc8.1    Daylight & Views - Daylight 75% of Space
  • IEQc8.2    Daylight & Views - Views 90% of Space


  • IDc1.1    Innovation and Design: Additional Material Recycled Content
  • IDc1.3    Innovation and Design: Joint Use and Shared Community Facility Design  
  • IDc1.4    Innovation and Design: Public Educational and Sustainable Program
  • IDc2    LEED Accredited Professional



  • Brick
  • CMU
  • Honed Block


  • Architectural Windows
  • Storefront Windows
  • Curtain Wall System


  • Polished Concrete
  • VCT
  • Carpet
  • Wood Flooring
  • Rubber Flooring Tile


  • Impact Resistant Gyp Board
  • Metal Panel


  • Suspended Lay-in Acoustical Ceiling Tile
  • Suspended Tectum Acoustical Ceiling Panels


  • Recessed Down Lights - Corridor
  • In-Direct lighting – Corridor


Owner: Dallas Independent School District
Program Manager: AECOM
Architect: Perkins & Will
Contractor: Satterfield & Pontikes Construction
Commissioning Agent: Air Engineering & Testing
Civil Engineer: APM & Associates
Landscape Architect: Berkenbile & Craig Landscape Architects
Structural Engineer: APM & Associates / LA Fuess Partners
Roofing Consultant: Amtech Roofing Consultants
MEP Engineer: Basharkhah Engineering
Food Service Consultant: H.G. Rice & Company
AV / Technology / Security: Datacom Design Group
Cost Estimating: KJM & Associates
Photographer: James Steinkamp with Steinkamp Photography