You will see changes soon at Highland Mall. After months of planning, the college will break ground on the first renovations on March 27.
Phase I will bring new life to the former J.C. Penney store, located on the northwest corner of the property. Sketches from the project architect, BGK Architects, reveal an open design with an emphasis on natural light and settings that facilitate new ways of learning.
While the groundbreaking will be a small event, by ACC standards, the new facility will accomplish big things when it opens in fall 2014. It will accommodate 6,200 students throughout 200,000 square feet and feature instructional space, a library, student union, faculty offices. It also will house the college’s math emporium – an open lab with seating and computers for approximately 600 students that is a critical element of the college’s developmental mathematics course redesign.
“ACC is working diligently to help students complete their developmental mathematics requirements, which is well known as one of the biggest challenges for college students nationwide,” says Dr. Constance Elko, chair of the Math Department. “The Math Department is involved in many innovative and creative projects, and ACC’s development of the Highland Mall facility now offers another enormous opportunity to continue and expand on innovation.”
The math emporium will be a state-of-the-art facility that uses technology as well as person-to-person learning to engage students and help them move to the next step in their education.
“The large computer room at the Highland Mall will add many new tools and facilities to help ACC students move through developmental education,” Dr. Elko says. “Shifting the way both instructors and students work, the Highland Mall facility will empower students in a supportive and creative learning environment. The Highland Mall development is a key part of how ACC will continue to create innovations for our students and boost their success.”
ACC’s long-term plan calls for transforming the site into a modern educational space that clusters related programs as well as a center for community and business partnerships, facilitating “earn while you learn” opportunities for students.
“It will be exciting to watch the first phase of ACC Highland come to fruition,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC president/CEO. “It’s good for the college, good for the mall, and most importantly, good for our students. Our goal is to be the premier community college in the nation. ACC Highland will play an important role in our efforts to reach that goal.”
Planning for future phases is under way; meanwhile, it’s business as usual at the mall. Many shops and restaurants remain open and welcoming to customers, offering discounts to ACC students and employees.
For the latest developments on Highland Mall, visit austincc.edu/highland.
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