Maple district considers plans for school expansion
The Maple School District building committee got a first look at plans for the new Northwestern High School Tuesday night. Architects from LHB in Duluth presented two site plans and three building plans for the committee members to critique and s...
The Maple School District building committee got a first look at plans for the new Northwestern High School Tuesday night.
Architects from LHB in Duluth presented two site plans and three building plans for the committee members to critique and suggest further improvements.
The committee reviewed the plans and expressed interest in one of the site plans and two building plans.
All of the building plans have some similarities. The plans call for saving 35,000 square feet of the existing high school. The 1980s wing and the gym will be saved; the rest will be demolished.
The rest of the school is poorly configured and has outlived its lifespan in the areas of heating, lighting and sewer, said Steve McNeill, LHB's director of design.
The new building will include an auditorium, second gym, wrestling room, choir room and more classrooms. It also will include a larger band room and new science labs, McNeill said.
The finished building will contain about 120,000 square feet of new construction with a total of about 155,000 square feet.
The plans differed in how the building was configured. They were developed to reflect needs determined from talks with school staff.
District administrators have been meeting weekly with LHB about the plans, said District Administrator Gregg Lundberg.
"We wanted to make sure we defined the absolute needs of education," he said. "It's an exciting process."
LHB also presented a master plan for the grounds that could include an extra parking lot near the highway and a full-size track in future upgrades to the school.
Both site plans called for a bus drop-off loop to the north of the school and a parent drop-off loop to the south near the main office.
The plans differed in how the parking areas were set up. The committee chose the site plan with a more traditional parking lot, which they thought would be easier for snow removal, maintenance and navigation.
Parking was an important issue for the committee. The district is so rural, driving to school is important for students, board member Rick Forsythe said.
"You can always add more parking; you can only do the building once," said Kevin Holm, LHB director of education.
The building plans included similarities as well. The building would have a large common area, concentrated locker areas and plenty of natural lighting. Committee members were split between two of the plans.
One plan called for a lower level gym and a multi-use open space in the center of the classroom area. More than one class could meet in the space for presentations, or students could use the space to work on projects. It also has a north-south common area.
The second plan called for placing the new gym next to the existing gym and classrooms placed in a block surrounding the media center. It includes a locker area next to the common area, which would run east to west.
Committee members were torn between the two plans because one plan granted easier access to the locker rooms from the playing fields. The second plan was preferred for academic reasons.
LHB will consider the concerns and recommendations of the building committee and will work on further development.
The firm will get estimates on cost, constructability, expandability, energy use and building order for both plans. The committee meets again in early February to make a recommendation to present to the entire board.
After plans are approved, construction manager Krause Anderson must get state approval of the plan so the district can start the bidding process.
The district plans to bid the project next fall and start building before the freeze. A possible completion date is set for January 2010.