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  Katy ISD Agricultural Sciences Center, Page 48Katy ISD Agricultural Sciences Center
Turner & Bair Architects, LLP
333 Cypress Run, #350, Houston, TX 77094

Katy, Texas
Total Square Feet: 32,300
Construction Period: Sep 2001 to May 2002

Construction Team
General Contractor: Gamma Construction Company - 2808 Joanel Street, Houston, TX 77027
Structural Engineer: PSS Partnership, Inc. - 6117 Richmond Avenue, #250, Houston, TX 77057
Electrical & Mechanical Engineer: DBR Engineering Consultants - 9990 Richmond Avenue South Building, #300, Houston, TX 77042
Cost Estimator: Gamma Construction Company - 2808 Joanel Street, Houston, TX 77027

Accommodating the educational needs of students and their instructors as well as providing a suitable environment to house a variety of animals presented a unique set of challenges for Turner & Bair Architects, LLP of Houston when the firm undertook the task of designing an Agricultural Sciences Center for Katy Independent School District.

The decision to consolidate and upgrade the facilities utilized by the district's high schools for agricultural sciences programs was prompted by area growth (Katy ISD is located approximately 18 miles west of downtown Houston and is one of the fastest growing public school systems in the country). In 2000, the district had two of three existing high schools scheduled to lose usage of pastures and a new fourth high school that didn't have facilities. Thus, it became prudent to find a permanent site for a consolidated program that would service the needs for four large high schools (each with enrollments of 2,400 to 3,000) and provide space to accommodate three additional high schools scheduled to open from 2004 to 2008. Turner & Bair Architects was selected as the architect for the project and was on board to help with initial programming and planning through Phase One construction that included site development of pastures, drives, and fencing as well as the completion of four 8,000-square-foot barns with re
lated traps, pens and ancillary spaces. Initially, each barn was configured to house 14 cows, 12 sheep and 12 swine with flexibility to alter the configuration of each pen should space needs change. Future construction will include additional barns as needed, and a central building with classroom, offices, agricultural mechanics shop, covered show ring, and ancillary spaces.

Inspection of similar facilities resulted in the selection of heavy timber as the primary construction material for the barns as it was noted that in places where steel was used in conjunction with housing livestock, the heavy concentration of ammonia resulted in premature corrosion of the metal. Other design details that required special attention included drainage, ventilation, and security issues.

Drainage concerns were addressed through the usage of concrete sloping away from the center with sufficient drainage portals strategically placed throughout. In addition, each pen is recessed and filled with sand to promote adequate drainage. Airflow to control odor and make the barns comfortable for usage in the infamous Texas heat was accomplished by placement of a full-length clerestory in each barn. The south end of each barn was left open and the north ends consist of ventilation panels.

Security begins on the perimeters of the property with wire-mesh fencing to keep coyotes and other predators out of the pastures. Single strands of barbed wire were placed at the bottom and top of the perimeter fencing to minimize damage to the hides of livestock raised by students for presentation. Closed-circuit television and controlled access are other security measures installed to protect both animals and students who visit the site to care for livestock outside of class hours.

With Phase One completed, it seems that the students, instructors, and four-legged tenants are all happy with the state-of-the-art complex while taxpayers and district officials appreciate the application of economical solutions that produced a durable, functional facility that adhered to budget constraints.

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