ACC considers design firms for Highland Mall site
Austin Community College officials expect to select a design planning firm early next month to help it with the extensive renovation of Highland Mall. The ACC’s board of trustees heard presentations this week from four planning companies at its Oct. 21 meeting and are expected to pick the most eligible firm at its Nov. 4 meeting.
The four finalists are Barnes, Gromatzky, Kosarek Architects of Austin; O’Connell Robertson & Associates of Austin and San Antonio; SHW Group of Plano; and Perkins + Will, which has offices all over the world including Austin.
The selected firm will be responsible for configuring the mall’s 1.2 million square feet of space into the eventual homes of many of the college’s programs including creative arts, culinary and hospitality and various work certification programs. Construction inside the north Austin site isn’t expected to begin for at least two years and will happen in many phases, said Bill Mullane, ACC’s executive director of facilities and construction.
Mullane said certain programs like creative arts and media studies need to be grouped together to encourage collaboration between students and faculty, as will culinary arts and hospitality, while other programs will operate best with some separation from what officials hope to turn into a bustling education hub.
The completed project will be much more open to its surrounding space, Mullane said, to encourage interaction between the academic activities and the residential, office and commercial uses planned for the existing parking lot areas outside the structure. That portion of the redevelopment is being handled by ACC’s partner Red Leaf Properties, which financed the purchase of the slowly diminishing mall.
Staff Writer-Austin Business Journal