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The Once and Future Ike

Committee considers school specs

August 31, 2010
Construction and renovation at Eisenhower Middle High School may start as soon as the students walk out the door next June for summer vacation. The proposed design includes an elevator to the second floor of the middle school area, a spot for the possible addition of an auxiliary gym, and no changes to the seats in the auditorium. The district is looking at a total project cost of $19 million. Architect Budd Mracna of WTW Architects of Pittsburgh, the firm signed on to design the construction and renovation, believes the project can happen within the proposed budget. “We think it’s feasible,” he said. The education specifications created by DeJong Richter include 187 pages of everything from possible layouts to space requirements and discussions of the classroom of the future for the 132,582-square-foot building. Academic space is the largest single element of the programmed spaces in the ed spec at almost 30,000 square feet. The physical education space, with a main gym, auxiliary gym, fitness center, wrestling room, locker rooms, storage and several other spaces, accounts for 25,550 square feet in the plan. Non-programmed spaces generally include hallways and restrooms and take up more than 39,000 of the total square footage. The auxiliary gym, although included in the ed spec, is not part of WTW’s plan. There is a spot for it left available in case the facility is desired in the future. Mracna explained that the WTW plan does not include significant new construction throughout the existing spaces. “To have spots of (new) construction throughout the building... you’re spending more money per square foot to accomplish that,” he said. To meet requirements to receive state funding for the project, a sprinkler system must be installed. Storing water for that system will be an expense. “It has to be sprinklered,” Mracna said. “You can build a water tower, underground tank” to satisfy the requirement that the system must be supplied for one-and-a-half hours. In terms of security, the WTW plan includes a single point of entry during the school day. “You have to come through the receptionist to gain access to the building,” Mracna said. The middle school academic cluster — 14 stations with a total area of 14,950 square feet according to the specifications — would include two stories. To meet accessibility requirements that space will have an elevator. The high school spaces — 16 rooms— add up to 19,800 square feet. Lighting, acoustics and other aesthetic aspects of the auditorium can be upgraded, but the seating will probably remain in place for financial reasons. According to Mracna, removing the seating would mean the auditorium would have to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards. “The slope does not meet ADA,” he said. New seats alone would cost between $120,000 and $140,000, he said. “That doesn’t count me having to jackhammer the floor.” He suggested leaving the seating in place since the space is primarily used by students. “It’s a great expense for a couple times a year,” he said. Mracna said the construction would take about 12 months of uninterrupted work. If the students are not somehow moved out of the building during the 2011-2012 school year, the changes may take 18 months. Director of Buildings and Grounds Services Norbert Kennerknecht said starting work when school lets out is an ambitious goal. “It’s going to be an aggressive schedule,” he said. The Physical Plant and Facilities committee gave their approval to the ed specs with modifications — leaving equipment including computers, printers, cables, and a building-wide air conditioning system out of the plan. The full board could vote on the plan as soon as the Sept. 13 meeting.


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