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KAI, Dallas ISD Awarded Caudill Award for South Oak Cliff High School Renovation

DALLAS, TX — KAI announces it has received a 2023-24 Caudill Award for renovations to the Dallas ISD South Oak Cliff High School. The Caudill Award is the highest honor in the annual Exhibit of School Architecture competition facilitated by the Texas Association of School Administrators and the Texas Association of School Boards for projects that exemplify excellence in planning and design of the learning environment.

“South Oak Cliff High School represents transformation that goes well beyond the built environment,” said KAI Vice President Derwin Broughton, AIA, NOMA, NCARB, WELL AP. “This project has reshaped the trajectory of the student body and surrounding region. Induction into the 2024 Caudill Class is a distinct honor representing an outcome amplified through the collaboration of the client, community, and architect. Design matters and when done with sensitivity can yield much more meaningful impacts. We are honored to be recognized along with Dallas ISD for this award.”

KAI provided programming and planning, architecture, interior design, community engagement, project management, and construction administration on the $60 million makeover of 68-year-old South Oak Cliff High School. The project, completed in December 2019, included two additions totaling 60,000 square feet with nearly 90 percent of the school renovated for a total of 264,000 square feet.

The Exhibit of School Architecture awards are given at the discretion of a 12-member jury consisting of four school board members, four administrators, and four representatives of the Association for Learning Environments. Named after Texas Architect William Wayne Caudill (1914-1983), the Caudill Award winners are chosen annually from among projects awarded Stars of Distinction in the areas of community, planning, transformation, design, value, and innovation.

Located in the Dallas Independent School District, the two-year South Oak Cliff High School renovation project was funded by the 2015 Bond Program. In response to community concerns and a dedication to improving educational environments, the district increased the allocation budgeted for South Oak Cliff High School, demonstrating the district's commitment to listening to its community and prioritizing the well-being and educational experience of its students.

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Community feedback on the school’s redesign was paramount. Prior to the design start in 2017, KAI participated in a three-day charrette with the community to gather and formulate ideas for the school's extensive renovation. It was agreed that the design theme would center around creating a 21st century learning environment supportive of current and future students.

“The focus behind every KAI project is transforming communities,” said KAI President Darren L. James, FAIA, NOMA, NCARB. “In this particular case, the students and the community were at odds with the district over the school’s condition and the perceived quality of education the students were receiving as a result. We listened closely to what the community had to say and worked with the district to find a design solution that fulfilled the desires of the parents and students and gave the district a modern, beautiful, and functional facility that everyone could be proud of for years to come. The school and the community have truly undergone a transformation of the highest level.”

The redesigned school includes a new, two-story addition housing administration offices, four science labs, a community meeting space, and a new entry connecting to one of the school’s hidden jewels — a landscaped courtyard. The addition’s facade along Marsalis Avenue offers a forward-facing expression that celebrates and highlights the sense of community this neighborhood institution developed over the last 60-plus years, along with the academic and athletic excellence ingrained in South Oak Cliff High School.

The school also received an athletic facility addition that includes a 2,500-seat gymnasium, weight room, auxiliary gymnasium that serves as a storm shelter, and a circulation space that features a three-story, light-filled concourse nicknamed the Legacy Concourse that celebrates the heritage of the school's student-athletes. The terminus of the Legacy Concourse is the Bear Den, which serves as the new entry and gathering spot for the school’s 1,300 students to engage in academic and social activities.

Two inaccessible and unusable courtyards were re-purposed for outdoor learning with new landscaping and a terraced amphitheater connecting two of the three floors, as well as seating for lunch and other academic uses.

Inside, KAI designed new collaboration spaces adjacent to classrooms that allow access to the courtyards at the first floor and an overlook into the courtyards on the second floor. The school also received new mechanical systems and updated classrooms for career and technical training, collegiate academy, fine and performing arts, life skills, and general education.

Students and staff returned to the renovated school for classes in January 2020.

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