Humantial & Synnovation

Ann Richards School Supports the Next Generation of Female Leaders with Innovative New Building

impact screen


  • The project helped fix a disparity that had been built into the system with a state of the art building, elevating gender equality and bringing forth a new legacy
  • There is now a physical representation of the city's investment in young women's leadership
  • The project broke ground 2 ½ months after permitting and 7 months after Civilitude Engineers & Planners had been hired
  • $123,686 sq. ft. and LEED Silver certification with a $70M budget

Project Overview

Founded in 2007, the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders is an all-girls, college preparatory public school serving grades 6-12 and forming part of the Austin Independent School District (AISD). Named after Ann Richards, Texas first female governor, the school primarily serves a student population coming from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and allows for more first-generation students to attend college.

The Ann Richards School needed a new building to meet the needs of the next generation of female leaders. Austin ISD allocated $70 million of its 2017 billion dollar bond proposal to create modern, innovative learning spaces. The upgraded Ann Richards campus features adjustable size classrooms, outdoor learning spaces, and open collaborative areas for project-based learning.


Problem Overview

The Ann Richards School needed an innovative educational environment to achieve 21st-century learning. Originally established in the former Porter Middle School building, which had been built in 1958, the campus did not adequately support the needs of its students.

The school hired Civilitude Engineers & Planners in September 2018 and wanted to break ground by April 2019, a seemingly impossible feat. In addition, the original building needed to maintain operations while the new one was being built 10 feet away on the same 12 acres. It was important that the project not disrupt the rest of the academic year for students while in construction. Finally, due to the public nature of the project, funding was limited to what was available from the bond money.



Civilitude Engineers & Planners was chosen for this project because of its specialization in K-12 site design and permitting, as well as its close relationships with city council and community leaders. While the quick timeline and limited budget posed challenges, the company brought their vision to life by deploying a two pronged strategy to ensure the project was completed on time, within budget and well.

By leveraging its relationships with city council, Civilitude Engineers & Planners was able to get a site plan exemption for early demolition. This was crucial since school campuses have a lot of structures, such as portable classrooms, that need to be demolished. Through this site plan exemption, they were able to get a head start on demolishing the existing building, putting the project on track to meet the April 2019 deadline.

The second piece of the strategy was attaining a fast track permit which puts every piece of the project together. This can be a tricky type of permit because, while it allows the project to get components started early, any mistakes are on the team. However, it was appropriate for this project because the school could take the risk, whereas they couldn't risk moving the students and missing out on a school year.


With the help of Civilitude Engineers & Planners, The Ann Richards School broke ground April 2019, within 2 ½ months of application, and students moved into the new facility January 2021 with the official Austin ISD Grand Opening happening in March 2021. The new building expanded capacity from ~900 to ~1,050 students, providing more young women across Austin college preparation.

“Here at Ann Richards, we tell our students every day that girls will change the world,” said Ann Richards principal, Kristina Waugh. “Now, we have a beautiful facility that reflects that mission and enables students to learn and grow to their fullest potential. I am so grateful to everyone who was part of making this project a success and thrilled that we could commemorate this milestone together.”