Texas Hearing Institute

  • area / size 41,353 sqft
  • Completed 2020
  • Inventure has achieved the design of the Texas Hearing Institute, the nonprofit organization serving children with hearing loss, in Houston, Texas.

    The Texas Hearing Institute provides comprehensive services under one roof including audiology, speech therapy, and a school known as the Melinda Webb School, for children 18 months thru kindergarten. The former Center for Hearing and Speech is the only full-service resource in Houston to teach deaf children to listen and speak without the use of sign language. Since 1947, THI has helped thousands of Houston-area children gain listening, speaking and literacy skills – the tools they need to improve their quality of life and achieve success in society.

    In 2017, THI commissioned Inventure to design new ground-up building within the city of Houston. A new building was necessary to support the fast growth of their services that are projected to double over the next 5 years. While looking for a new site, an invitation was extended to join the Texas Medical Center as a member institution. As a result, THI now resides within TMC’s McGregor Campus at the intersection of Shenandoah and Mark Crosswell Street; adjacent to highway 288.

    Working with a limited budget, much of which was funded thru generous donations, Inventure was able to design a new one-story facility that “provides cross-pollination” between each service group through careful planning. A centralized entry pavilion anchors the two wings of the project with the school and its secured entry to the right and the clinic and the administration to the left. Behind the entry Pavillion, Texas Children’s Hospital has a separate clinic for children with hearing problems that dovetails with THI’s services.

    The overall facility provides an elegant feel of “simplified nature”. Inventure complimented the architecture with a strong graphics and signage program that communicates child-like aesthetics and wayfinding starting at the front door of the light-filled Pavillion. The facility is colorful and bright and children know that a place has been created specifically for them. The school uses the theme of “house and home” to anchor the 14 classrooms with color-coded “houses” as entries. Generous use of windows on the corridor allows observation of the children’s learning. Resources for the classrooms are located in the interior spaces and the culmination of the design is the open library which is designed as part of a forest.

    The project overcame several challenges. They included a tight window to sell their property at West Dallas Street, find a temporary location to continue the mission of the THI, while navigating the timeline of the design and construction of their new building. Requirements for the Medical Center and flood control, limited the access to the entire 4-acre site. The clinic and staff parking restricted the size of the building and the close location to the noisy 288 corridor required the sound booths to be moved as far east as was possible. The construction started during a particularly wet season and the contractor, Tellepsen, was also presented with the challenges of managing their subcontractors during the pandemic. The tight scheduling required the building to be completed for the coming school year.

    THI’s new building supports their excellent service to the Houston area and 36 surrounding counties. The atmosphere reflects the organization’s professional approach to a child’s hearing loss and provides an environment that meets their unique, individual needs.

    Design: Inventure
    Contractor: Tellepsen
    Photography: Peter Molick