In the wake of a March 2016 wind storm, four buildings that were constructed in 1976 on Tarrant County College’s Northwest campus in Fort Worth needed to be replaced. Seven years later two of the four buildings are completed, and construction on all four will wrap up by 2026.

“An engineering study showed that it would be less expensive to replace the buildings rather than undertake repairs,” Vice Chancellor Emeritus Bill Lace said. “As a result, the four core buildings are being demolished, and four new buildings will take their place.”

The new facilities will blend the latest in education technology with open and multipurpose spaces designed to support modern learning, officials said.

The outlook

While the completed project of four new buildings is still more than two years in the future, Lace said the first building is in use for the 2023-24 school year.

“Because the new buildings have to occupy the same general footprint as the old ones, the demolishing of the old ones and the erection of new ones have to be done in stages so that there’s enough classroom space for classes to continue,” Lace said.

Officials with Gensler, a global architecture, design and planning firm, worked with TCC officials to design the new buildings to create a “knowledge hub” to accommodate the different learning styles students have. Allison Marshall, Gensler senior associate and studio director, said in a June news release that officials did a survey and found “the main reasons students come to campus and stay on campus are for socializing and working with classmates.”

The new building, Northwest 1, serves as what Lace called the campus’s “front door” where campus administration is housed. He said there are also 16 classrooms in the building to help foster connections between students and staff.

Lace also mentioned several upgrades in the new buildings that will help the learning environment evolve, including:
  • Classrooms being modernized to support the latest in technology and create collaborative learning environments
  • A computer network lab offering state-of-the-art technology for students to learn how to build networks
  • Library additions, including a “maker space” and an Anatomage table, which portrays the human body and can be adjusted to show various layers of the body
By the numbers

Lace said the funds for the project came from an $825 million bond program approved by Tarrant County voters in 2019. Lace said the Northwest Campus redevelopment was $373 million.

While construction is ongoing to improve the campuses, Lace noted the students won’t have to see hefty increases in the cost of education.

On Sept. 21, the TCC board of trustees approved the following increases to tuition rates—the first increases since the 2018-19 academic year—beginning in spring 2024:
  • In-county resident tuition will increase by $5 to $69 per credit hour, which translates into $1,035 per semester for a full-time, in-county resident taking 15 credit hours.
  • The out-of-county resident tuition will increase from $126 to $131 per credit hour.
Even with the increase, TCC maintains the second-lowest tuition of Texas’ top 10 community colleges, according to a district news release.

What they're saying

Students like Vexa Balderas are excited for the new buildings because of how the design allows for interaction and collaboration. She said the new buildings feel more open and welcoming, and the old buildings were cramped and dark. She added the old buildings didn’t have much open space, where the new buildings allow students to hang out and talk to other people. A first-year student, she started school in the spring semester of the 2022-23 school year.•