Texas Architect Jan/Feb 2006: Schools
Texas Architect is the official publication of the Texas Society of Architects, each edition features recently completed projects and other editorial content largely written by AIA members in Texas. That collective participation was the basis of Texas Architect’s recognition by the national AIA with a 2010 Institute Honor for Collaborative Achievement.
texas architect 44 1/2 2006 by RICK LEWIS, AIA The building of new public schools is a thriving enterprise in Texas and – a consequence of this era of unprecedented housing development expansion – nowhere is the boom in school construction more obvious than in the suburbs. While urban school districts struggle to accommodate students on cramped campuses sometimes haphazardly knitted together with modular classrooms, families living “beyond the loop” are afforded the benefit of seeing their tax dollars invested in schools. Cibolo, on the northeast outskirts of San Antonio, is just such a community. Last fall, the Byron P. Steele II high School opened its doors to 1,000 students, the first wave of an anticipated population of 1,500 pupils by 2007. An eventual final phase of academic core expan- sion will provide facilities for a projected student body of 2,500. Comprising 306,668 square feet of sheltered spaces, the new complex was built at a cost of just under $33 million. Nicely situated on the crest of a hill that soon will be surrounded by mundane, vehicular-con- nected housing developments – subdivisions ironically named for the wildlife or nostalgic yesteryear lifestyles displaced by their construction – Steele high School was conceived by a once-rural school board whose directors could not have imagined expending tens of millions of dollars a decade ago on such a campus in the middle of nowhere. To the credit of the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD board members, the critical process of site selection was undertaken in consultation with the architects commissioned to design the campus master plan and its components. Seen from a distance, the two-story school is not particularly imposing despite the absence of a context of similarly scaled institutional or commercial architecture within the surrounding area. Due in large measure to the space afforded its generous 100-acre site, the school was planned as a Wise Investment project Byron P. Steele II High School client Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD architect O’Neill Conrad Oppelt Architects, Inc. contractor Bartlett Cocke, L.P. consultants Pfluger Associates Architects (consulting architect); Danysh & Associates (structural); CDS/Muery Services (civil); ms2, Inc. (MEP); James Cooper (landscape architect); BAI, Inc. (acoustics) design team Larry O’Neill, AIA; Mickey Conrad, AIA; Mark Oppelt, AIA; Kent Niemann, AIA; Lowell Tacker, AIA; Carlos Constantino photographer Greg Hursley