Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts: A Next-Level Institution for Learning
Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA) is a one-of-a-kind fine arts school in Houston, Texas. Dedicated to providing challenging academics and rigorous training in the arts, Kinder HSPVA has been home to numerous Grammy-winning musicians, Emmy-winning actors, successful journalists, and famous performers. It also boasts some of the highest numbers of Presidential Scholars in the Arts in the nation. Students come from all over the country to study vocal and instrumental music, dance, theatre, visual art, and creative writing.
Interest from prospective students has never been higher, but the original HSPVA building was built in 1971. Despite piecemeal renovations here and there, it was bursting at the seams and in serious need of updates. After extensive deliberation and an exhaustive search for a new facility, school administration decided to design a brand-new campus in downtown Houston. The project would require first-class music education, acoustic, staging, lighting, and rigging equipment for the many performing arts spaces within the school. It would also target LEED Silver certification.
“We didn’t just build a state-of-the-art school. We built a performing arts complex that will impact future artists for generations to come,” said Jim Stevenson, Houston division president of McCarthy Building Companies.
But it would take a talented team to make this next-level institution a reality.
Building a Performing and Visual Arts Institution for the Future
Spearheaded by the Houston Independent School District Construction Services department, the design team included Gensler and HarrisonKornberg Architects as well as McCarthy Building Companies, who worked directly with Wrightson, and Johnson, Haddon & Williams, Inc. Theatre Consultants (WJHW), acoustic design and audio/video consultants Jaffe Holden, primary structural engineer Cardno Haynes Whaley, primary mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering consultant Shah Smith and Associates, and several associate consultants. The new five-story building would take up an entire 1.32-acre block and would feature:
- 800-seat main theatre with a balcony
- 200-seat theatre
- 190-seat black box theatre
- 150-seat recital hall
- Dance and music studios
- Rehearsal rooms
- Educational spaces
Chris Purpura from WJHW was the lead theatre consultant and identified the equipment best-suited to the school’s many needs. Purpura determined that Wenger Corporation – including the Wenger and J.R. Clancy brands – could provide a one-stop integrated solution to accommodate the school’s many performance spaces and needs, including lighting.
“I think Wenger is the only name that most music educators know when thinking about music education equipment,” says Brad Smith, Director of Orchestral Activities and String Chamber Music.
Making the Vision a Reality
Each of the Kinder HSPVA spaces feature advanced Wenger Corporation and J.R. Clancy systems, from a custom Diva® acoustical shell, SceneControl™ motion control systems and PowerLift® hoists to StageTek® risers and conductor’s equipment. These components not only bring versatility and professional quality to the performance spaces, but they offer streamlined solutions to Kinder HSPVA.
“This integration provides continuity among the spaces for the faculty and staff using the equipment, as well as a single point of contact for any service questions,” says Ryan Cole, Wenger Corporation Project Manager.
These innovative options aren’t reserved for Kinder HSPVA theatre spaces alone either. We also outfitted the rehearsal rooms with virtual acoustics environment (VAE®) and SoundLok® technology to create superior sound isolation and “record and playback” features. Now, Kinder HSPVA musicians can get immediate results while learning to perform in different acoustic environments. And, to keep things neat and tidy, we installed organizational solutions, like AcoustiCabinets® and a String Bass Rack, so students can store their instruments when not in use.
“We also provided all entertainment lighting fixtures, networking, distribution, and lighting controls for the Denney Theatre, Dance Studio, Studio Theatre, Recital Hall, Black Box, and Light Lab,” explains Cole.
Integrating lighting elements, acoustical shell, automated and counterweight rigging solutions, motion control solutions, portable audience seating, staging, and music rehearsal equipment provide Kinder HSPVA with ease of control and serviceability going forward.
Unveiling the New HSPVA Campus
Once the building was completed, and the products installed, the students, faculty, and staff, couldn’t wait to move in. The new campus and its upgrades are improving everything from teaching and learning to the entire performing arts experience.
“Kinder HSPVA is truly a school like no other,” says Principal Scott Allen. “As I walk the hallways of the school and observe students studying and participating in creative writing, dance, theatre, vocal and instrumental music, visual arts, and the academics, I realize how fortunate they are to have a fine arts campus to attend in the Houston Independent School District.”
Take a tour of Kinder HSPVA’s Denney Theatre in virtual reality to see its versatility and professional quality firsthand.