EXCLUSIVE: Get a first look at Austin Community College’s newly renovated Rio Grande campus
By: Michael Barnes

Be prepared to be gobsmacked.

The historic Rio Grande campus of Austin Community College — once Austin High School and, before that, Allan Junior High School — has been thoroughly transformed with an eye to the future of learning in this city.

More than a century of gritty wear and tear, as well as almost geologic layers left behind from past makeovers and expansions, have given way to open, modern classrooms, science labs and meeting spaces that swim with light and are designed for streamlined comfort.

As part of a $49 million project, two open-air courtyards, which once allowed daylight into the interiors but baked in hot weather, have been covered with high-tech tenting from Germany, making them comfortable year-round. The former auditorium has been turned into a tall-ceilinged training center and software factory for Army Futures Command. What not long ago was a cramped cafeteria is now an “ACCelerator,” a high-tech learning center laid out for mentoring, like the popular version already in place at ACC Highland.

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