New gym, storm shelter coming to Dallas’ James Madison High School

By Skye Seipp - November 4, 2020

South Dallas

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A new competition gymnasium at James Madison High School is being constructed as part of roughly $29 million the school received in Dallas ISD’s voter-approved $1.6 billion 2015 bond package.

The new two-story gym will feature new locker rooms for both men and women, a state-of-the-art weight room, updated coaches’ offices, new laundry rooms and renovations to the band room. In addition, it will serve as a storm shelter for James Madison High School, which will have the ability to hold all students in the event of a storm.

The "Great" James Madison High School, Dallas, Texas, new gym
Rendering of future gym at the “Great” James Madison High School. Image courtesy of Jacobs and Associates, Dallas ISD.

“It’s very important for the students and community to see such a beautiful project here at the Great James Madison High School,” Principal Marian A. Willard said in June at a virtual community meeting. “This is something we really need in our community. Something that’s fabulous and makes the kids want to come back to the Dallas Independent School District and to come … back to their campuses.”

In addition, a new parking lot is being constructed at the corner of Meadow Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, where one of the two tennis courts currently sits. A new tennis court will be built on the other side.

Additions and renovations

The "Great" James Madison High School site plan

Renovations of the retaining walls, drainage improvements, new track, and sod for football field. Addition for gym and locker rooms, new parking lot, and new tennis courts.
The "Great" James Madison High School, map of first floor renovations.

Renovations of the band hall, locker room, support facilities, laundry and floor structure.
Top: James Madison High School updates. Above: First floor renovations. Images courtesy of Jacobs and Associates, Dallas ISD.

The school also is installing new retaining walls to replace the 105-year-old wall at the front of the school, which includes a drainage system to keep water out.

Moisture has damaged two classrooms in that area of the school. Also, a representative from Jacobs and Associates, the architecture firm that designed the projects, said at another virtual community meeting in June that the firm will be fixing the floors of those classrooms. Sealing around windows and cracks in the foundation both will require replacements.

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Plans also include a secured entrance added to the building, and renovations made to the track and football field in the form of new sod and irrigation system replacement.

Historical landmark for James Madison High School

Furthermore, all additions have to be in compliance with the Landmark Commission since the building, which was completed in 1916, is a historical landmark.

Construction has not begun yet, as the school’s landmark designation requires City of Dallas rezoning approval to construct the addition.

Robert Baldwin, Dallas ISD’s planning consultant for the project, said rezoning is a two-part process that includes a city plan commission meeting, which is open for the public to voice support or concerns about the process. The meeting was set for late July, but it was pushed back to August.

Once the commission hears a proposal, it goes to the Dallas City Council so that members of the public can express their concerns or approval of the changes. The plan went before city council and was approved in mid-October.

The "Great" James Madison High School hallway.

"Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it." 

Michael Jordan NBA quote
Rendering of future James Madison High School hallway. Image courtesy of Jacobs and Associates, Dallas ISD.

According to the new Dallas ISD data dashboard for the 2015 bond, construction will begin in March 2021 and continue through November 2022. Additionally, during construction students will have the opportunity of being displaced in phases, Willard says.

Other renovations mentioned at the June meetings include:

  • Replacing the HVAC system and getting rid of window units
  • A new roof
  • Installing security cameras
  • A mural in the main hallway

This story was co-published by our media partner, the Dallas Weekly

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