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Posts published in “Day: April 19, 2016”

HCC-NorthEast holds Groundbreaking ceremony for new North Forest campus

NORTH FOREST – Civic, educational and government leaders met last Tuesday morning, to hear about the plans for a new educational complex that is expected to benefit the education of the community, but also be a spearhead for a revitalization of the whole North Forest area.

The Groundbreaking Ceremony was hosted by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, whose efforts at raising financial and governmental support for the project, and the minority community, were instrumental in achieving the fruition of the complex.

The project had originally been part of the HCC bond issue with $48 million set aside for these buildings and support. But changes in the budget priorities almost doomed the project, but Lee and others continued with their vision for North Forest, and were able to regain $28 million to assure the project. Lee credited the HCC board, Chancellor Maldonado, HCC-NE President Margaret Ford Fisher, HCC trustees Adriana Tamez, Dave Wilson, and Zeph Capo and others with making sure the project would become a reality. The previous North Forest board, represented by Maxine Seals and Michael Frazier, were also credited.

In her remarks, Congresswoman Lee noted that the North Forest area is “zealous and jealous” and will respond to this new opportunity. She sees the building not just as an educational opportunity, but also an economic development leader for the future of the community.

She credited the previous North Forest school board and the community for having the forsight to vote a referendum to join their district with the Houston Community College district.

As an example of what this project could mean economically, she had represented on the speaker’s dias the Japanese Consul General Tetsuro Amano, and the Toyota General Manager of Diversity & Inclusion, Adrenne Trimble. The obvious implication is that they are interested in graduates of this facility, for jobs in the industry, but just as important, Congresswoman Lee indicated she has had talks with Chrysler, GM and Toyota about the benefits of a car or parts factory in the North Forest area, which has abundant land, proximity to major shipping, and a large labor supply that will now have the skills they need.

In his remarks, Chancellor Maldonado made the point that the type of education needed for Automotive Technology, in today’s world, will also provide training for many other types of jobs.

Community joins in planning new NCI center

EAST ALDINE – Over 100 members of the community, plus educators, architects and land planners, and staff of the Neighborhood Centers, Inc. were present last Thursday night at Hambrick Middle School, to participate in what NCI termed “IMAGINING THE FUTURE.”

This was one of a series of meetings and interactive workshop sessions, meant to adapt the final design of the NCI part of the new Town Center to the specific needs and preferences of the Aldine community.

A welcome was extended by Jose Rivera and others from NCI, and then Jamie Flatt, an architect with Page Architects, explained what had been accomplished to date in the design process, and what the audience should try to help decide in the evening’s work session.

Flatt said that early workshops had identified major functional elements that should be considered in the design, including a Welcome Center, a large Maker Space, with a commercial kitchen, Classrooms, spaces for Workforce Training, a Lounge or Relaxation space.

Flatt explained that each of these spaces had been made to size in the shape of small blocks, and the workshop teams were being asked to arrange these blocks into a relationship model, or site plan, and in the process discuss their criteria or desires, for the whole group to benefit from at the wrap-up.

She noted that from earlier workshops, the architects had designated the blocks as follows:

1. Welcome Center with a Retail shopping component

2. A Cafe with an adjacent Recreation room

3. A maker space with a commercial kitchen included

4. A Gym and a Performance space

5. Classrooms, for meetings, workforce information, and financial services.

6. East Aldine office space and support areas.

Page Architect David Quoderman, and Landscape Architect KG Osakura also gave some advice to the design teams, and monitored their work as it progressed.

KG in particular urged the groups to include outdoor spaces of varying sizes, with definition, and to try to picture them as “Happy Fun Outdoor Spaces.”

The teams were highly original, using paper, scissors, long pipe cleaners, the premade blocks, crayons and other devices to not only solve the relationship exercise, but to extend the parameters and find new desire. For instance, many of the schemes contained a water feature, or a fountain, and arcades, and walking trails. Many schemes located parked cars at the perimeter, to favor open space and pedestrian circulation.

Flatt and the others summarized the results on large paper display panels, and plan to present the exercise as a video too.