Nancy and Rich Kinder are putting their financial clout behind another unique Houston institution. Houston Independent School District officials announced on Monday that the Houston couple is donating $7.5 million through their foundation toward construction of the new High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in downtown Houston.
The new building, at the corner of Rusk and Austin streets, will be named the Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Construction began in February of this year and is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2018.
The gift is pending approval by the HISD Board of Trustees, who will vote on the matter on Thursday. (UPDATE 10/13: After a vigorous debate, the HISD Board of Trustees voted 7-2 to accept the donation and rename the school for the Kinders.)
The $90.2 million project, designed by Gensler, will include a five-story, 168,000-square-foot building with an 800-seat main theater, 200-seat mini-theater, 200-seat black box theater, and 150-seat recital hall. The complex will also include academic classrooms and learning center, studios for creative writing, dance, music, visual arts, and recording, a costume and scene shop, indoor and outdoor dining areas, and two levels of underground parking. The campus is designed for 750 students, all of whom audition for placement.
Officials call the collaboration between a private donor and non-profit organization for the benefit of a HISD public school "an unprecedented partnership." The project received funding of $80.2 million from HISD in a 2012 election approved by voters. HSPVA Friends, a non-profit group that supports the school, has launched a $10 million capital campaign to complete the project. The HSPVA Friends Board of Directors has pledged $670,000 and plans to raise an additional $1.83 million, which when added to the Kinder's $7.5 million lead gift, will reach the goal.
The funds will also provide for ongoing maintenance of equipment, furnishings and programming.
Rich Kinder, 71, the chairman and CEO of Kinder Morgan, is No. 69 on the current Forbes list of 400 Richest Americans, with an estimated net worth of $7 billion. He is the richest Houstonian on the list.
The school lists such notable alums as Beyoncé; Grey's Anatomy star Chandra Wilson, jazz pianist Jason Moran, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, actress Mireille Enos, soprano Camille Zamora, photographer Mark Seliger, and Grammy winners Robert Glasper and Bryan-Michael Cox.