Between 1892 and 1895 no fewer than three foundations were created to support the construction of a non-vocational Jewish secondary school, which the fundraisers saw as an efficient measure to counter the continuing decrease of religious zeal among the Jewish elite and the consequent loss of identity. Béla Lajta and Ármin Hegedüs, both highly experienced in schoolbuilding construction, were commissioned to make the preliminary sketches. Finally, it was Lajta who won the assignment.
The first planning drawings bear the date June, 1913, but the actual construction work began on the basis of a second set of plans of March, 1914. After World War 1 began, the construction came to a halt and the building spent the next decade in an unfinished state, to be completed only in 1931.
The spaces for learning, more generously conceived than those in the competing educational institutions of the time bear witness to the special teaching program devised by leading educational expert Mór Kármán. The 9-year secondary school was divided into three 3-year tiers. Corresponding to this structure, each level of the building housed the classrooms of three classes. Lajta designed a school that was not a closed block of a building but a set of three functionally distinct wings embracing an open courtyard. The wing overlooking Bálint Street comprised the staffroom with a synagogue on the upper floor, the one overlooking Abonyi Street housed the classrooms, while the one protruding into the courtyard had the library, the science cabinets and the gymnasium. Each classroom had a small adjoining study for the form teacher. The drawings of 1914 show some radical changes to the elevations as well as the inside of the entrance volume: with the redesigned porch the Bálint Street front gained an emphatic motif, while the space behind the main door was transformed into a monumental entrance hall. As opposed to the first, immature drawings, the new elevations show a harmonic combination of archaic features and innovative ideas that have no historic predecessors whatsoever.