NISD: Work begins on Byron Nelson expansion
As a fast-growth school district, Northwest ISD annually sees an overall population increase of about 1,100 new students each year. To help alleviate this growth, several schools are receiving expansions thanks to the 2017 bond package, and Byron Nelson High School is the first secondary campus to see that work begin.
Construction began this summer on the expansion, which will increase Byron Nelson’s capacity to 3,200 students, up from its current size of about 2,500 students. The work includes new or repurposed areas for academics, athletics and fine arts, which will now have more centralized areas within the campus. A new academic wing will house career and technical education programs, for instance, while a new athletic facility will house outdoor sports.
The three-story education wing will serve as perhaps the most dramatic shift at the campus, as it will change the school’s footprint on the east side – between the fine arts area and current classroom wing – and add about 75,000 square feet of learning space. Though the wing will primarily house CTE programs, 12 core classrooms and dedicated student collaboration areas will be located inside around a rotunda that connects the new wing to the existing academic wing.
At the first level, the new wing will house an engineering and robotics lab as well as the culinary-led Byron Bistro. The new bistro will feature indoor and outdoor seating, and a unique blue entrance so both students and community members can easily locate the dining center.
“Our staff and several members of the community love eating at the Byron Bistro, but it’s currently in a slightly out-of-the way location, on the second floor, above the main gym area,” said Chef Victoria Hooker, an instructor in the school’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Academy. “With our new location, there will be direct entry into the Bistro for those visiting our campus, and we’ll have both indoor and outdoor seating areas.”
Moving up to the second level, a collaborative studio modeled after real-world professional environments will serve architecture and interior design classes. Science labs for the Biomedical Sciences Academy are also on this level, including a unique, fully operational mock EMT lab. Finally, on the third level, physics labs will support the school’s current science labs in the existing portion of the main building.
Dr. Ron Myers, principal of Byron Nelson, said the expansion will help meet the needs of a growing student population.
“We’re excited to have more space and also have some more specialized areas for our more technical classes,” he said. “Education is all about preparing our students for the future, so having these spaces to provide the best experiences possible for classes is exciting. Students in the culinary program will have a great experience running the new Byron Bistro, for instance, and having a fully operational mock EMT lab is something that will give students the best emulation of a real-world environment of that nature.”
The other major addition in the expansion is the creation of a new outdoor athletic facility near the school’s practice fields and track. The new building will be located at what is currently the practice softball field and will feature 40,000 square feet of space to house locker rooms for outdoor sports, athletic administration offices, a weight room, a training room, and two team rooms for meetings.
A benefit of the new CTE wing and athletic facility is that existing space those programs currently occupy can be repurposed for academic use. Renovations will take place to provide more learning spaces, supplementing the existing classrooms and educational areas.
Tim McClure, assistant superintendent for facilities, said the new areas of Byron Nelson wouldn’t be possible without the support of community members, students and staff.
“Adding on to an existing campus is always an exciting process, because students who are already there get to see the work being done and are eager for the end result,” he said. “We even received student and staff input before working with our partners on the design, so it’s a vision I know everyone will be proud of.”
In addition to Byron Nelson’s expansion, voters in the 2017 bond election also approved an expansion at Eaton High School, which will similarly increase its capacity to 3,200 students. An exact timeline for that project is still being decided.