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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Newest plans for HS auditorium unveiled, work begins in Aug.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Plans for the Storm Lake High School renovation and construction of a new auditorium were approved by the Storm Lake School Board Thursday at a special meeting.

Chris Osore and Andy West of DLR Group gave a presentation which included exterior and interior designs, construction budget, schedule and drawings.

Over the last several months, representatives of the architecture firm have been in Storm Lake meeting with subcommittee members from the auditorium committee and high school renovation committee and school staff in an effort to "continue to develop the concepts," Osore said.

New artist's conceptions of the Storm Lake High School project include this view of the new auditorium entry and the various materials to be used. / Courtesy DLR Group
West told the board that when complete, the facility "will look like a whole brand new school and something to be proud of which will be a focal point of the community."

In explaining the costs of the project, Osore said the firm is always aware of the $17.5 million budget that the district has in place. He went over the costs with the board, revealing that with the professional fees and miscellaneous expenses added on, the current cost estimate jumps to $18.8 million. He said there are several areas that could happen at a later date - such as the resurfacing of the north parking lot and landscaping and improvements to the current gym and locker rooms. Delaying this work would help bring the cost back to the budgeted $17.5 million. Brainstorming will continue to find other area where savings could be found. It was pointed out, however, that if the overall bids come in lower than anticipated, some of these cuts will not be necessary.

Osore said DLR is finding that the construction market is still competitive; he sees bids coming in lower than anticipated on several projects.

Superintendent Dr. Carl Turner said that he has heard from many firms already, interested in the project, which is a good sign.

"We have challenged the teams to come up with the most cost effective ways to go about this so it doesn't break your bank," Osore said. "A good design does not have to be expensive." The philosophy for the exterior design, as developed by the subcommittees, is that the structure "provides a strong and inviting sense of entry" and that the design is "geometrically strong, simple and highly functional."

The designs shared reveal that the south entry of the building will create its own identity through materials but it will also establish a strong campus-like atmosphere "where the landscape and the built environment become cohesive components for learning opportunities."

Construction materials include precast concrete, light diffusing frosted glazing, which will also create a "lighthouse effect" with the use of light filtering through the glazing, and a composite metal panel.

The auditorium entry will be comprised of two different shades of gray composite metal panels and be complemented by a darker shade of gray brick.

The south entry will be highlighted by a band of glazing below a metal panel canopy.

Areas that the committees want to see highlighted in the interior of the building including using the Tornado logo throughout the school.

Carpet, concession furniture, paint, ceiling materials, terrazzo and wood colors were also discussed. Still to be decided are the wall materials for the auditorium. Examples include the use of cherry and maple laminate, cherry laminate and metal panels, maple laminate and metal panels, plastic laminate and metal panels, two shades of metal panels or two shades of plastic laminate.

"Some people are saying wood is the way to go and some are saying wood is not the way to go," said Supt. Turner. "The board will have to decide."

Discussions and drawings were also shared on how the new Family Consumer Science (formerly known as home economics) are would look as well as the revamped media center; both will be larger areas and modernized to meet the needs of the students.

Also on the minds of architects and the school board is whether a safe room should be part of the plan, in light of the recent tragedy in Oklahoma in which school children died in the school. Cost of a safe room - a room with reinforced walls - large enough to hold all of the high school students and teachers could cost an additional $800,000. FEMA funds are available but application must be made. The process could take six months to a year and then it is not for sure that the district would be rewarded any money.

Erica Dierking said she felt as though "belts could be tightened" in areas to pick up the cost for an area that would keep kids safe if grant dollars did not come through.

Presidents Ed McKenna said he also feels a safe room is important "but I don't know if it is $800,000 important."

Principal Jeff Tolefeson said there are already tornado shelters in the school - areas where there are no windows - but no safe rooms. He worries about big crowds, for instance if a ball game was going on. He added that to get everyone to one spot, in seven minutes, which FEMA says should be the maximum amount of time, wouldn't work. To have several spots for safety throughout the building, he feels, would be more logical.

It was pointed out that the precast materials that will be used for the walls are more sound and could provide better protection in the event of a tornado. It was also added that "lids" could be put on the roof to make it stronger.

Dave Skibsted added he, too, felt it was important to add a safe room but in separate construction, maybe two years down the road. Osore will continue to gather information for the board in regards to the costs and materials.

Comprehensive plans for the elementary and middle schools will be looked into as well.

The architects introduced a phasing schedule. Construction is expected to begin this August and the entire project should be wrapped up by Jan. 2016, which will allow school to go on around the construction.

Work will begin on the north end of the building with the construction of the new science and ninth grade classrooms; this area is expected to a year to construct. Construction will overlap with the work on the auditorium and auxiliary gym to begin in the spring of 2014. These two area are expected to be complete by summer of 2015. next spring will begin the new gym and auditorium construction. Work is planned from the outside in with such areas as the media center, kitchen and administration offices done during the summer months. Renovation on the current classrooms will be done after all the construction is completed.

The project will go out to bid July 22 and bid opening will be Aug. 22.

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