Highland Center for Innovative Learning

The Highland Mall, once an abandoned shopping center, now houses Austin Community College’s Highland Campus. The state-of-the-art facility caters to both arts and sciences programs to create a flexible, highly functional space for interdisciplinary work that brings together higher education, workforce training, and lifelong learning.

The 415,000 SF space offers expanded learning and training opportunities to a variety of programs including visual communications, photography technology, music business and performance, radio-television-film, computer science, game development, drama, dance, culinary arts and hospitality management, and healthcare.


The creative digital media center portion of the renovation, occupying 125,000 SF, prepares students for careers in both the information technology and creative sectors.

Rooms for the music and radio-television-film programs include recording studios with isolation booths, teaching studios, film and television studios, control rooms, a traditional Foley studio for sound effect creation and a post-production creation lab, and multiple rehearsal spaces.

Photography technology studios equipped with high performance projection screens and a 4K laser, high-lumen projection system accommodate traditional instruction, small group, and individual work.

Nine gaming labs, an advanced gaming lab, and a game test room with surround sound capabilities facilitate high-quality gaming experiences.


The health sciences center responds to the increasing demand for nurses and other healthcare professionals. The 14,000 SF space features human patient simulation areas with six simulation rooms, one operating room, one multipurpose lab, and one labor and delivery lab, which all support high-fidelity medical manikins.

A skills lab provides opportunities for hands-on training, and each patient bed uses live video and medical imaging capture for procedures on medical training simulation spaces.

Other health sciences instructional spaces include

  • A hemo-dialysis lab
  • A certified nursing classroom and lab
    • A medical assistant classroom and lab
    • An ortho and dental assistant classroom and lab
    • Computer classrooms and training labs
    • A flexible 60-seat classroom


    A black box theatre functions as a flexible performance space that is adaptable to suit the needs of individual performances. A sound and media lab utilized by the drama department for post-production and design capabilities doubles as a live recording room during black box performances and as an isolation booth for students to record voice overs or instrumentation.

    The performance and rehearsal space in the dance studio provides seating for 60 audience members and features audiovisual systems to accommodate performances, rehearsals, and instruction.


    The 19,600 SF culinary arts and hospitality management center triples the space for culinary arts instruction at Austin Community College. The space includes a fully functioning production teaching kitchen and dining space that serves as a traditional restaurant environment or a special event venue open to the public. A demonstration and practice lab, basic skills lab, baking lab, and pastry lab provide students with collaborative, hands-on opportunities.


    Roughly 12,400 SF of the renovated space caters to various rooms and labs that support continuing education. The continuing education programs include healthcare, culinary arts, cosmetology, and massage therapy.


    The 21,300 SF Regional Workforce Center modifies to provide customized training and manufacturing space. Reconfigurable technology and furniture gives users the ability to divide the space into three smaller classrooms. The Center also has nine CAD labs with one supporting distance learning for remote students, a flexible presentation space, and a conference room.


    • The shared multimedia interactive gallery is a museum-style space with minimum permanent infrastructure and equipment utilized to showcase student and staff work, including collaborative work among departments.
    • A large media lab utilized for film screenings has theatre quality video and performance surround sound.
    • A shared multipurpose presentation space offers a wide range of functionality for general presentations to fully produced events for up to 140 attendees.
    • An open accelerator computer lab promotes student success with heavy instructional support.
    • Six conference rooms feature basic presentation capabilities.
    • Three large smart media labs can be utilized as classrooms and post-production spaces.
    • Four computer classrooms offer a mix of instructional classroom and open lab environments.

    The two-story center for innovative learning, training excellence, and community engagement promotes interdisciplinary work in higher education and strives to revitalize the surrounding community through private and public partnerships.


Austin, TX


Austin Community College
Perkins & Will
Barnes Gromatzky Kosarek Arhictects


Key Facts

  • Project Size: 415,000 SF
  • Construction Cost: $152.8 million
  • LEED Gold Certified