Byron Nelson High School, located in Trophy Club, Texas, has seen its student capacity increase significantly since opening its doors 11 years ago. To accommodate the community’s rapid population growth, the Dallas studio of Perkins and Will was brought on to revamp the existing campus and make improvements to the original site. The three-story, 75,000-square-foot expansion and renovation of the existing campus provides added capacity and increased educational offerings for the fast-growing Northwest Independent School District (NISD). In addition to providing more room to accommodate an expanding student population, the school celebrates its culture, pride, and heritage.
The design emphasizes visibility to programs such as the school’s new Engineering Lab, created as a combination of a Robotics and shop space; the Architecture Studio, which serves as a model making support area; and the Biomedical Science program. The team positioned these course areas to showcase ‘learning on display,’ locating them near the main hallways with glass walls to offer direct views inside so that students, parents, and other visitors can observe classes in session. The school also revamped the Culinary Arts program by moving it from a remote second floor location, expanding the footprint, and incorporating it close to a secondary entrance to provide direct access to the school’s bistro. An integral part of the Culinary Arts program, the Byron Bistro allows students to receive their practicum experience, showcase their skills, and provides a valuable service to NISD staff, administration, and the greater community.
As a way to improve the learning process for students, collaboration areas allow the curriculum to pivot toward one-on-one and small-group learning sessions and provide space for students to pause as they traverse from class to class across the campus. All classrooms and labs are also positioned by windows for access to natural light and views. Other modifications include the expansion and reconfiguration of existing administration spaces, reconfiguration of the lobby to provide a secure entrance, and renovation of orchestra and band halls to accommodate the growing student capacity. Outdoor sports were moved into detached field houses, and the vacated space was renovated into larger, more functional locker and shower facilities categorized by type of indoor sport. Additional athletic support spaces include PE lockers and restrooms, laundry facilities, a conference room, and athletic offices for single and group use. To improve existing circulation and create connections to the outdoors, the new addition was positioned between the art wing and existing classroom building. At the connection, a monumental staircase sits within the multi-story rotunda volume overlooking this outdoor space.
Hallway messaging and graphics play a large role in keeping students inspired through a series of layered narratives and highlighted themes surrounding learning, collaboration, and nature. Through a visioning session with students, teachers, administration the design team defined what differentiated a Byron Nelson student from others, and what values they held close to their hearts. The team layered this information with independent research on the namesake professional golfer Byron Nelson and their mascot, the Bobcat. As students and visitors walk through the hallways, they see the Byron Blue color with prairie grass patterns, the natural habitat of a bobcat, along with inspirational messages and graphics that tell the story of Byron Nelson, bobcats, and the school’s history.
Providing the utmost in safety measures to protect students was also top priority for the school district. The design team found a delicate balance between the transparency of glass walls and the building’s solid walls to ensure the school was as safe and secure as possible in the event of an emergency. The existing front entry and reception area was reconfigured to create a visual connection to approaching visitors. The reception space was enlarged and repositioned within a large existing lobby to provide better sightlines to surrounding spaces both inside and outside. In addition, doors were added in various places to allow hardening of an area in case of a lockdown. Technology infrastructure was also integrated, strengthening the overall safety and security of the school from its home base.
NISD and Perkins and Will took steps to make this project collaborative, inspiring, and environmentally friendly. The use of natural light was essential for the district not just for sustainability purposes, but also for students’ well-being. Other sustainable steps taken include the school’s flooring, a no-wax solution of Forbo linoleum, which is bio-based and biodegradable, made with renewable and recycled ingredients, has CO2-neutral production, is naturally antimicrobial, and wax-free. Non-VOC paint was also specified, as well as energy-friendly lighting, and high-efficiency HVAC systems were designed for this project.