South Oak Cliff High School

Uniting the Community with an Equitable Learning Environment

South Oak Cliff High School
Dallas Independent School District
Dallas, TX

South Oak Cliff High School (SOC), constructed in the early 1950s, was center stage of a highly publicized student walkout covered by local and national media outlets in 2016. The condition of the school had declined over the years and the protest was in direct response to leaky roofs, inadequate heating and cooling, pest and vermin infestation, and issues with the natural gas infrastructure serving the building. KAI was hired by Dallas ISD in response to the outcries from the students, faculty, staff and community to address the deficiencies and provide a 21st-century learning environment for the students.

Project stakeholders collaborated with KAI throughout the duration of the project with a series of community meetings held on a regular and ongoing basis to keep the public informed of the progress of design and construction. During the Scope to Budget phase of work, KAI identified deficiencies and needs totaling nearly $90 million. Through a series of work sessions, community outreach and advocacy, the initial construction budget was increased from just under $26 million to just under $42 million.

The design solution focused on addressing the mechanical and functional deficiencies of South Oak Cliff High School while creating an equitable learning environment. Included within the project were building additions totaling nearly 60,000 SF. The additions include a new public entry, administrative offices, clinic, science classrooms, cafeteria expansion, choral classroom, weight room, learning stair, 2,500-seat competition gymnasium and legacy concourse. Also incorporated into the addition is a new auxiliary gymnasium that serves dual purposes as the ICC 500 2014 Storm Shelter for the students and faculty.

Nearly 100% of the existing facility was renovated with new mechanical systems installed throughout. The school featured two existing courtyards that were previously inaccessible and unusable. KAI’s design solution created a new access portal through new collaboration spaces to provide indoor/ outdoor learning environments. The portability and ability to adapt the classroom and surrounding environment facilitates 360-degree learning, meeting the learning styles of all students.


Architecture, Interior Design, Building Information Modeling, Project Management, Construction Administration, Programming, Planning, Community Engagement

“It’s easier to build strong children than repair broken men . . . Education is not what you get, it’s what you do!”

John Wiley Price, Dallas County Commissioner
Dallas County

New two-story entry features the "Bear Den" gathering spot

Two underutilized courtyards were re-purposed for outdoor learning

The Impact

A new day for South Oak Cliff

Improvements to SOC did not come easily - it was a contentious struggle with walk outs, protests and lawsuits regarding the school's condition and perceived quality of education. But KAI provided critical leadership and a listening ear in charrettes with community and district stakeholders and throughout the project to understand all of the needs and desires for this important school. We are thrilled to have provided this community with a landmark transformation that inspires pride!