After many months of planning, the final design of the highly anticipated new Guilford High School is unveiled and, with a few options left on the table as the project proceeds, the plan has been given the green light and work is set to begin this spring.
Tai Soo Kim Partners (TSKP) presented its 100 percent design development documents to the Guilford High School Building Committee (GHSBC), the Board of Education (BOE), and the public in a joint meeting on Oct. 9.
"Working with this committee has been very rewarding-it's a very intense group. They tackle problems diligently, they work towards workable solutions making sure the program is satisfying, and is done within the budget. This is a milestone," said TSKP architect Ryszard Szczypek.
After lengthy discussions, the GHSBC voted to approve the documents, moving the large-scale project from the design development phase to the construction document phase.
Before giving the formal presentation of the new building, Szczypek reviewed the value engineering and add/alternate items included in the plan to date. Some of the value engineering (a method to find alternate ways to achieve the same goal) items are possible reductions to the number of parking spaces and simplifying acoustic panels in the band and orchestra room. Some of the add/alternate items include expanding the auxiliary gymnasium by six feet, adding the black box theater, and substituting different ceiling tiles in the atrium and a different canopy in the front of the building.
As shown in the documents, the building presented at this phase is 213,000 square feet, 8,000 square feet larger than what was approved at the referendum in 2011.
"When we made our schematic design presentation back in April of this year, we were at 215,000 square feet and then we worked with the committee to reduce that number, but as we developed the drawings further, it climbed back up," Szczypek said.
He noted there would be more insulation than normal in the exterior walls of the building, which was approved as an energy efficiency measure with a fast payback period. Windows will have sunshades to control the amount of natural daylight in the building. Daylight sensors will be inside the building as another way to save energy.
The architect reviewed some of the building committee's latest thinking, such as eliminating outdoor benches with the possibility of creating a grassy slope that could support seats. Further discussion will continue on this with the construction manager in the coming weeks.
Szczypek briefly went over the floor plans, which he said were "substantially the same" as what we presented at the previous schematic design phase. The documents illustrated the same number of classrooms and labs as well as seating in the commons area to hold 400 seats per three lunch waves.
The main difference on the second floor is the placement of the social worker officers from the third floor down to the second floor, adjacent to the guidance offices. Another significant change was the addition of a second elevator in the new school.
"At the earlier level of these drawings, we had one central elevator. We had a lot of discussions and even had meetings with [Building Director] Cliff Gurnham's staff about the need to get trash out of this building quickly-they had advocated for a trash chute," he said. More recently, the committee decided, "We're better off putting a service elevator, a second elevator, rather than the trash chute. Now the building has two elevators, which is also good planning because if one elevator is down, you can still get service people to all three floors levels."
The location suggested for the add/alternate black box theater is on the west side connected to the building. Szczypek also addressed certain flooring types for different rooms in the building as well as acoustic components of the building.
There was some discussion about the auditorium and gymnasium. Szczypek said equipment in the gymnasium needs to be addressed next, including wrestling mats and the climbing wall. This will be covered in the next design phase. The auditorium has been redesigned with a simpler ceiling and holds a seating capacity of 600, including removable seats in the orchestra pit. TSKP continues to work with a theater design firm on this section of the school.
Also approved at the 2011 referendum was the emergency shelter. Areas in the school that will be designated as the emergency shelter include the commons area, the kitchen, food service area, auditorium, gymnasium, locker areas, and music rooms. There will be an emergency generator and a fuel capacity generator for three days. Discussions regarding the emergency shelter continue to occur among TSKP and the Emergency Shelter Subcommittee at its meetings.
Superintendent Paul Freeman was pleased by the presentation.
"It's been a really healthy community conversation. It's been a lot of community participation leading to changes," Freeman said. "I'm more than satisfied. I'm excited about where we find ourselves in the project, and it's going to be a spectacular school for our students."
Plans for the existing science wing are still developing at the town level and are not included in the construction project. There is a $600,000 savings by not incurring the penalty for demolishing this wing.
BOE Chairman William Bloss pointed out that because Guilford's maximum reimbursement rate was locked in before June 2011, the town is saving about $8 million compared to current, lower rates of reimbursement.
To date, construction is set to begin in mid-June 2013 and last until February 2015, with a move-in date that month. The committee cannot go out to bid until it receives state approval.
GHSBC meetings are held nearly every Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Community Center. To view the entire architect presentation, visit the Courier's website, www.zip06.com/guilford, or the building committee site, www.guilfordhigh.com.