The existing school was build in the 1950's and was the original stand-alone elementary school for mesquite ISD. Its design was based on the "California" plan, utilizing single laded wing plan connected by open canopies and operable windows providing natural ventilation to every classroom. 

Security issues had become paramount since the classrooms opened directly to the outside and required students to travel outdoors to the restrooms, cafeteria, gym, library, art, music and the office. The low slung woof frame structure added another level of complexity in providing air conditioning and utilities to the classroom every time systems were upgraded. A full replacement was the best solution.

Multiple design options were considered utilizing multiple additions in phases to replace the school. The spread out site configuration along with sharing the site with a middle school created obstacles that could not be overcome. It became very apparent to the school district the best option was to replace the entire school with a new school facility all at once in order to shorten the construction period and minimize the impact upon the students and teachers.

The site was so limited that the first phase of the construction was to demolish two classrooms wings just to allow space for the new building. The next big challenge wss to provide enough area for the geothermal well field early in the construction while still providing a safe distance separation from the existing facility for the safety of the students during the construction period. The district desired to keep the traditional "red brick school house" motif since the school was replacing the original elementary school is the district.

Finally, the demolition of the old school and the saving of the existing large trees created a "park like" approach to the new school entrance.

CASTTLEBERRY ISD - A.V. Cato Elementary School

Castleberry ISD had not built a new elementary school since 1950s. The District's original school campus served about 1,500 K-5 students in an assembly of over a dozen structures built over a 50 year span. The campus was identified as two separate schools, Castleberry Elementary being the primary school and A.V. Cato being the intermediate school. They each occupied separate buildings, sharing a single large cafeteria and gymnasium building, the newest structure on the campus. 

With little off-street parking and vehicular circulation, student drop-off/pick-up periods had become traffic nightmares and challenges to safety. A plan was developed to construct two new elementary school on separate sites to replace thing single, large campus. This way the first of the two schools to be constructed, and was located on a newly acquired site in a nearby neighborhood. A.V. Cato opened in the fall of 2012 as a full Pre-K-5 school, reducing the student population of the original campus by 50%. The District took advantage of competitive construction costs by including 8 unfinished classrooms within the building to accommodate future growth.


CASTTLEBERRY ISD - Castleberry Elementary School 

The opening of A.C. Cato reduced the District's original elementary school student population by 50%. Therefore, CISD was able to demolish enough of the now vacated buildings to begin construction of the new, replacement Castleberry Elementary School. This school will operate as pre-K through 5th grade school like the new A.V. Cato, rather than as a primary school as it had been. The existing cafeteria/gymnasium building, that served both schools, was preserved and renovated and connected to the new elementary school. The interior renovation of the school occurred in the summer of 2012 allowing it to continue in operation for the remaining students while construction of their new school continues.





Constructed during the WPA and opening in 1938 as Forney High School, the current Forney ISD Administration Building is a Registered Landmark. WRA renovated the building in 2008 and worked with the Texas Historical Commission to comply with State historical preservation requirements for the landmark building. A new office wing matches the original building's appearance. A new enclosed courtyard was created for use by teachers and other District staff. Old windows were replaced with energy efficient wood framed multi-light units matching the appearance of the original windows. New HVAC and electrical systems were also included.



Established in 1902 on this site, Mesquite High School is a Registered Landmark. Buildings were added in 1923 and the late 1930s. In the late 1990's WRA worked with the Texas Historical Commission and the school district to renovate the oldest wing. The design maintains the integrity of the original exterior of brick and cast stone, while completely renovating the interior to meet the district's current classroom standards and ADA/accessibility requirements. Spaces that were renovated included classrooms, restrooms, lecture halls and other spaces. 



Delivering the design and construction of Forney's second high school - North Forney High School - illustrates exceptional collaboration between owner, architect and construction manager under intense time pressure. Even though most projects are not fast-tracked as this one was, the entire team worked well together under extenuating circumstances. 

Forney ISD's 2004 - 2005 enrollment was 4,432 and growing rapidly. In fact it grew by 18% the next year to 5,239 for the 2005-2006 year. Demographics indicated a second high school would be needed by August 2009.

District enrollment grew by another 17% the next year to 6,138 for the 2006-2007 year, and after a full year's delay in getting a bond passed, the referendum for the second high school was approved by the voters in May 2007. By this time it required an accelerated schedule to design and build a 350,000 square foot high school by August 2009. 

Fortunately, the design team was able to hit the ground running for several reasons. The site was already owned by the District, and WRA Architects and Gallagher Construction had been involved in the bond planning. WRA worked very closely with Forney ISD and Gallagher to make the August 2009 deadline. 


The design phase was reduced from 12 months to 8 months, and the construction schedule was reduced from 24 months to 16 months. WRA divided the architectural effort and released an early structural steel package and then a site grading package; we then completed the balance of the CDs to be ready to start the building immediately upon the steel arrival.

It should be noted that the success of this complicate coordinated is largely because the team - Forney ISD, WRA Architects and Gallagher Construction - have been working together for a decade on numerous projects.





White conducting a District-wide Facility Assessment and Compregensive Master Plan, WRA brought a delicate matter before the Board. As a long-time K-12 specialist architect, WRA was able to foresee an eventual major facility impasse, and suggested the District consider a bold step to avert future complications. The idea involved switching two long-established campuses with each other. 

Forney High School occupoed a small 40-acre in-town site where it has been since the 1960’s. Forney Middle School was build on a large 70-acre site several miles east of the town in the early 1990’s when the town was still very rural. However, by the early 2000 the District’s enrollment began growing with demographics suggesting it would increase rapidly for the foreseeable future.

The projected space requirements for the high school indicated its available site area would only accommodate an enrollemtns of 1,200 by 2005, if not before then. Meanwhile, the middle school occupied a site with far more land area than its growth needed.

With the passafe of a $93,800,000 bond in 2002, WRA Architects worked with Forney ISD to consider the viability of switching the two campuses to better accomodate the Distrit’s increasing growth. WRA performed a series of dual-site studies and consulted with District officials for over a year on a wide array of options and their ramifications. The decision was made to switch the two schools with each other; the old in-town high school would be renocated into a new larger middle school, and the overly-large middle school site outside of town would become a modern state-of-the-art high school with a football stadium, performing arts complex, a CATE center, parking for 2,000 cars , and even room for a future indoor football practice field.

The transition of repurposing the two campuses with constant planning for the ever increasing enrollment, was completed in a multi-phase process over the period of several years. The high school campus was mater planned for an ultimate capacity of 2,000 students and has now been built out in several phases according to the Master Plan. The campus includes an 8,500-seat stadium, an athletic facility with an 80-yard indoor football practice field, an 850-seat auditorium, rhe full suite of performing arts facility, tennis courts, outdoor practice fields, a shared city- school public library, and a Career and Technology Education (CATE) center, all of which was designed by WRA Architects.