Wise Investment by RICK LEWIS, AIA
Byron P. Steele II High School
Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD
O’Neill Conrad Oppelt Architects, Inc.
Bartlett Cocke, L.P. 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
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a r c h i t e c t
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 expansion 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-connected 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
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