By Debbie Adams
William Byrd High School Principal Tammy Newcomb, Vinton’s Roanoke County School Board representative Tim Greenway, and Roanoke County Schools Director of Facilities and Operations Chris Lowe hosted an Open House at the school on Sunday afternoon, May 16.
Renovations and new construction will begin on the high school this summer and the Open House gave the community the opportunity to visit the school once more before renovations get underway. Architectural drawings and renderings and site plans of the planned renovations were on display in the front lobby.
Greenway emphasized the need for updates to the school. He noted that much of the school looks just as it did when he graduated in 1982.
The project was originally planned to be completed in 18 months, but with industry-wide delays in construction and production and delivery of construction materials, that timeline will most likely be 24 months instead with completion estimated for December 2022.
The school board received an update on the project at their meeting on May 4 from Troy Smith, President of Avis Construction, and Earle Shumate, Senior Designer for Hughes and Associates Architects and Engineers, along with Lowe.
Avis Construction and Hughes and Associates were awarded the contract for the WBHS renovation and construction project in November 2020.
At the board meeting Shumate said that the philosophy of Hughes and Associates was to make the Vinton school “look and feel like a new school without building a new school, to make the Byrd facility more cohesive—to look like a school that was built all at the same time.”
They plan to accomplish this through a series of infill additions, some major renovations, reshuffling of spaces, and general updates of all the finishes in the building, all the casework, the HVAC systems, electrical systems, plumbing, etc.
Twelve trailers will be placed on the school grounds by Avis to provide classroom space for students displaced during the renovations. Those trailers will be moved onto the William Byrd campus in June and mobilized by July. Newcomb said that about half of the school will be open and used during the renovations.
The initial cost of the project was estimated to be approximately $23 million, including soft costs of technology and furniture. That price may increase significantly due to current market conditions. Lowe said that pricing will be addressed on May 26 when subcontractor bids are received.
Some features of the William Byrd project will include a renovation of Byrd’s front portico and its front lobby with a new Hall of Fame, new science labs, new art classrooms, the addition of its first Choir Room (choir and band now share a space), an added gym dedicated to wrestling and cheerleading, a new elevator, renovations to the guidance offices and media center with the two swapping spaces, addition of a sprinkler system, added security systems, and the addition of numerous restrooms throughout the building.
Workspaces will be added for special education staff. The final portion of the building which has not received a new roof, will have one installed. An emphasis will be placed on natural lighting, including the addition of an atrium.
This is the first Roanoke County school to be built under the “design build” model in which the architects and contractor work together from the beginning, as a team, providing unified project recommendations. This process should reduce cost overruns and save taxpayer dollars.
Greenway says the purpose of the William Byrd project is to “bring the school up to the standards of the other four high schools in the county.” The school was built in 1969 and has been renovated or added to piecemeal on six previous occasions.
He stressed again his belief that renovations and construction at William Byrd and other county schools which have become antiquated will increase pride in the community and lead to students choosing to remain in the area to work after high school or college—May 16 was all about “Terrier Pride.”