Campus Renovations

Texas Junior High to See Renovations, Conversion to Middle School

Preparations are underway for significant renovations to Westwood Junior High School in Palestine, Texas. A recent news release from Pfluger Architects announced that voters in Westwood ISD approved a $38-million bond referendum in November 2021 aimed at improving the building’s capacity and security. Local news reports that the project will involve enclosing and adding to the facility’s four existing buildings to create space for about 320 students in grades 6–8.

“The campus design conforms to the learner, educator, leader and learning space profiles developed by the district's Educational and Facilities Long-Range Master Planning Committee,” said Superintendent Wade Stanford. “The committee put a lot of effort into defining who we are in Westwood and what we want for our students, teachers, staff, and community. This is the first opportunity to turn those concepts into something tangible.”

The project will double the school’s available space and include amenities like art and science labs; a new band hall; flexible learning spaces; and a stage with an open area to host band concerts, award ceremonies and theater performances, according to local news. The design plans to incorporate the building’s original, stable foundations and load-bearing walls.

“The design intent is to support the learning space profile defined by input from the community, parents, staff, and students,” said Terry Hoyle, CEO of Pfluger Architects. “The learning space profile we're designing to includes flexible and comfortable instructional spaces; collaborative spaces for engagement, creativity, and student choice; and non-academic spaces for community engagement and outdoor learning.”

The new facility’s design also keeps safety and security as top-of-mind concerns. The building will feature a single access point through front doors that can be unlocked with a key card. “The design strikes a balance between transparency and safety,” said Steve Fitzpatrick of Fitzpatrick Architects. “With windows and clerestories, we can bring natural light to education spaces, and adding wood soffits will warm the façade and create a welcoming feel.”

The district is partnering with Pfluger Architects and Fitzpatrick Architects on the building’s design. The project’s construction manager is Jackson Construction. Construction is scheduled to begin in September and continue through early 2024. Officials said that they don’t anticipate any disruption to school or student life during the upcoming school year.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].