Billy Earl Dade Middle School
Dallas Independent School District

The design of the new Billy Earl Dade Learning Center began as a conversation with educators, cultural anthropologists at the Smithsonian Institution, research at the African American Museum of Dallas and during several oral histories sessions conducted with Dr. Dade’s daughters, Billie and Barbara. As a result, Henry R. Muñoz III working in conjunction with the Smithsonian’s, Claudine Brown developed a concept based on the importance of quilts in African-American culture.

Quilting serves as a medium in the African-American heritage for passing down stories and embracing community pride.  The geometric composition of the patchwork quilts from the Gee’s Bend Collective serves as the inspiration of the building exterior and many of the interior elements.  Much like the quilt the cultures, customs and rituals of the former Billy Earl Dade and Pearl C Anderson Middle Schools have been woven together into a new community of students, teachers, administrators and staff.

“Quilts are some of the most miraculous works of modern art that America has produced… comparable to Paul Klee and Henri Matisse.”

– The Quilts of Gee’s Bend

Quilts tell stories. For generations of people, whose traditions have been less thoroughly documented, quilts have recorded history and heritage. Woven together from pieces of material, they have most importantly, been assembled from pieces of cultural information.  Quilts as a visual and cultural statement are woven together in the imagery and words as embodied by the life of Dr. Billy Earl Dade.

The new, Billy Dade Middle Learning Center achieved multiple goals. Some were tangible resulting from guidelines implemented by the Dallas Independent School District, such as designing an environmentally sustainable learning facility; and some were intangible, derived from the hopes and aspirations of the community and the neighborhood in which the new school now resides. “Dr. Dade”, as he was referred to by generations of students and the new school’s namesake, was a teacher first and foremost, a principal, a parent, an activist, an involved citizen and a mentor for whom education was the essential tool for the success of the individual and the greater community. He wove people together – many of whom were not expected to succeed – in a pattern that exists to this day.

By appropriating the intellectual and artistic themes embodied in the quilting tradition and reinterpreting them in architecture, we assembled a campus complex, which fosters through physical space, the same feelings of cultural identity, social interaction and personal pride that was so much a part of the life of the school’s namesake.

28 General Purpose Classrooms

Student Capacity:
1,100 – 1,300 (designed for future growth/flexibility)

Building Size:
213,616 sq. ft.

In addition to core classrooms, the new Learning Center features: 457-Seat Auditorium, Band Hall, Choir Room with individual practice rooms, Drama Classroom, Orchestra Room, Competition and Practice Gymnasiums, School Store, Two-story Media Center (Library), 2 Computer Labs, 2 Art Classrooms, Career Lab, 8 Science Labs, 2 World Language Classrooms, 3 ESL Classrooms and Athletic Facilities: Football Field, Baseball Diamond, Softball Field, Tennis Courts and Basketball Courts

Alta Architects*/KAI Texas LLC 

Design Architect:
Alta Architects*
(*formerly, Muñoz & Company)

Associate Architect:  KAI Texas

Design Team:
Henry R. Muñoz III – Alta Architects
Jerry Sparks, AIA – Alta Architects
Ronald J. Biediger, AIA – Alta Architects
Rene Lemos – Alta Architects
Joaquin Abrego,IIDA – Alta Architects

Management Team:
Ronald J. Biediger, AIA – Alta Architects
Randy Barnett, AIA –  KAI Texas
Derwin Broughton, AIA – KAI Texas


MEP: BEI Basharkhah Engineering

Structural: Datum-Gojer Engineers

Civil: Pacheco Koch

Landscape: CCA Landscape Architects

Technology/Acoustics: WJHW

Cost Estimating: Hill International

Code: Rolf Jensen & Associates

Food Service: JMK Foodservice Consulting

Accessibility: K+K Associates

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