Case Study

Arlington ISD Center for Visual and Performing Arts A Fine Arts Center to Impress Novices and Professionals

Arlington, Texas, USA

The Challenge

The Arlington Independent School District asked HKS for a venue that would be the centerpiece for the district’s Arts IB curriculum. The building would need to accommodate a performing arts venue, gallery for student and professional exhibits, classrooms, studios and other learning spaces.

The site’s location in the city of Arlington’s prominent Entertainment District required the design of a pedestrian-friendly site that added value to the community.

The Design Solution

Through an inclusive design process that invited school and community stakeholders into the conversation, HKS guided the district in defining its vision and needs while rigorously balancing budget to deliver maximum value to students and the broader Arlington community. The result is an Arts Center with separate venues for music and theater to allow for right-sized and age-appropriate experiences. From a vibrant LED display in the ceiling to the Steinway piano on stage, each element in the 1200-seat concert hall is intended to create a visual excitement and connection to the energy of the performance for musicians and their audience.

The top professional venues in the North Texas region served as inspiration for the level of acoustic and visual experience desired for the performance hall. HKS worked with acoustical designers to craft a hall with enough volume for optimal reverberation, outfitting the ceiling with rectangular and ribbon-like panels that add visual appeal to the space while amplifying its acoustic performance. The concert hall will also host professional musicians and community events when school is not in session.

A separate 450-seat theater provides students the intimate setting to explore their theatrical potential and learn how to command an audience while performing. The theater was designed in the same warm tones as the rest of the fine arts building, and it allows student actors to engage with their audience by glancing at the balconies and making eye contact with the audience. The space is also equipped with a digital backdrop that broadens the range of scenery options for student and professional performances.

Additional spaces such as a dance studio, instrument repair shop, scene shop, and an art gallery featuring student work round out students’ learning by showing them the many paths they can pursue in the arts after high school. These behind-the-scenes and on-stage experiences will propel students to the top of their class as they compete for coveted spots at the country’s best higher education institutions.

The Design Impact

HKS’ thoughtful design establishes a tree-lined plaza between the Center for Visual and Performing Arts and Athletics Center. There, on the lushest part of the site, the design preserves a park-like space for the “Arts Lawn” where Arlington residents and visitors can stroll and admire student sculptures. The “Arts Lawn” also has provisions for a future amphitheater to compliment the schools’ performing arts and didactic programs.

The Center for Visual and Performing Arts bridges students’ futures through professional-level performance and behind-the-scenes experiences. By investing in their learning and inspiring them to be creative thinkers, these young people will be artists for life. AISD Center for Visual and Performing Arts is set to become the standard bearer for arts education in the state.

Project Features

  • 1,200-seat concert hall
  • 450-seat theater
  • Dance Studio
  • Band Hall
  • Visual arts studio
  • Dedicated Art Gallery
  • Classrooms
  • Instrument repair studio


  • 2022 Stars of Distinction, Community (TASA/TASB)
  • 2020 Impact Awards (Dallas Business Journal)
  • Best Real Estate Deals of 2020, Community or Neighborhood Impact (Dallas Business Journal)