AUSTIN (KXAN) — Thousands of Austin Community College students are being moved to other campuses starting this year because of major renovations happening at the Rio Grande campus downtown.
This is one of six major projects funded through a $386 million bond voters approved back in 2014. Thursday at 9 a.m. a groundbreaking ceremony will kick off the work and Congressman Lloyd Doggett, a graduate of the original Austin High School, and Austin Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo will attend.
The Rio Grande Campus main building was the original Austin High School and became an ACC campus in 1975. The building is more than 100 years old. Plans call to gut the inside but preserve the historical appearance on the outside.
“We are not just putting on some paint, we are literally taking down walls,” says Neil Vickers, ACC Executive VP of Finance and Administration. “It is a complete redesign of the interior to move into the more modern concepts of what the learning space in terms of class sizes but more open spaces like the accelerator.”
The original plumbing and electric will be upgraded and stairwells will be moved and opened up. There will also be specialized and dedicated facilities for Austin’s deaf community.
In the meantime 4,000 students will be attending class at the Highland or Riverside campuses for the next two years.
“We’ve done the best we can to be strategic and to make sure people can get their full course load and minimize the disruption to student’s degree plan as they are moving through,”Vickers says.
ACC will utilize the old Austin High gym, which is across the street from the main building, to hold class for about 1,000 students.
The total cost of the project is $49 million from the bond and is expected to be ready for students in the fall of 2019.
The 2014 bond is also funding five other projects: phase two of the Highland campus, a new campus in San Gabriel, a new building in Round Rock and Elgin, and a new facility for first responders at the Hays campus. All are scheduled to open between 2018 and 2019.