Many Hyer Neighbors Dread Rebuild

Uninvited by HPSID, architect Larry Boerder came up with a traditionalist design (left) for the Hyer Elementary School rebuild project. (Photo: William Taylor)

Most architects don’t know how to give new buildings the traditionalist style that predominates in Park Cities neighborhoods.

That’s what architect Larry Boerder, a specialist in traditionalist design, contends.

The University Park resident has designed Park Cities homes for years and worked on the Highland Park Town Hall renovation, which was completed in 2014.

Now he’s among those worried about what Hyer Elementary School will look like after Highland Park ISD has it torn down and rebuilt in the 2019-2020 school year.

“I care deeply about Hyer, because my daughter went there,” he told more than 50 other concerned neighbors recently at University Park United Methodist Church. They had gathered to discuss options for convincing district leaders to change directions on the project.

“Neighborhoods are the backdrops of our lives,” Boerder said. “Do we want this to look like an office park?”

The architect wasn’t alone in fearing an office look to the new school building.

Others used a similar description and pointed to the district’s “ugly” new elementary school building on Durham Street, near Northwest Highway, as an example.

More than 50 residents meet at University Park United Methodist Church to discuss concerns about plans for Hyer Elementary School. (Photo: William Taylor)

Their concerns also include the prospect Hyer could be rebuilt with three floors, instead of two, giving it a height residents see as out of proportion with the neighborhood.

Boerder, uninvited, created a two-story traditionalist design concept for the Hyer rebuild, but said he was met with indifference when he showed it to district leaders.

“They have their ears plugged up,” he said.

District leaders said they are listening to residents during on ongoing design process.

“We are going to make sure every voice is heard, so we know how our community feels,” board vice president Kelly Walker said earlier that day.

By a show of hands, most of those at the neighborhood gathering, including Boerder, indicated they would prefer Hyer remain as is.

Preservation Dallas executive David Preziosi, who attended, said the Hyer building has historic value because of its “fabulous, wonderful design by Mark Lemmon,” whose work includes Highland Park Presbyterian and Highland Park United Methodist churches.

Others contended that district enrollment doesn’t justify additional elementary school construction, but if Hyer must be torn down and replaced it should be done right – to appropriate scale and style to fit among its University Park neighbors.

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