VLK Architects

World-Class Cafetorium

Midlothian Heritage High School opened its doors to students in August 2014. Phase I of this project is intended to serve 1,000 students. Midlothian ISD wanted the new high school to have all of the amenities as the other high school in the district, but the budget and lower student population did not allow for the construction of a full auditorium, which is one of the most expensive spaces in a high school project.

VLK worked with MISD and our consultant team to design a “World-Class Cafetorium” that would serve as a cafeteria and an elegant performing space for the fine arts programs. The cafeteria has a traditional flat-floor design, so it functions well for student dining. The walls and ceiling are acoustically treated and shaped with elegant wood panels to provide the high-quality performance space the client desired. Rather than incorporating a traditional cafetorium stage, this stage is actually a fully-functioning black box theater, which is used as teaching space and performing space for drama classes.

An innovative use of a retracting wall, made by Skyfold, separates the black box from the cafeteria with a solid wall that, at the turn of a switch, retracts up above the ceiling to create the proscenium opening for the stage. This unique solution provides maximum flexibility for each space while saving millions of dollars for the district.