At the School Design Advisory Team meeting on Monday, August 5, BLRB Architects presented significantly revised plans for the new elementary school to be built at the Genesee Hill location. These changes were made largely as a result of the previous plans coming in around 10% over budget in the initial value engineering estimates. Soils issues on the site were also a consideration. The BLRB team considered many alternatives prior to going to the new design, but ultimately found that the necessary cost savings could not be achieved without the new configuration. The team also incorporated a variety of minor changes to address the concerns of district Facilities and Maintenance staff.
Here are the major changes that were made:
Site Layout and Grading:
- There will no longer be a separate classroom building on the lower level (nor the bridges needed to connect it to the main building).
- The classroom wing of the main building will have a larger footprint and go to a 3-story height (from 2 stories in the previous plan) to accommodate all of the classrooms. (The mechanical systems will be built underground to meet the city’s 3-story height limit.) Other 3-story elementary schools include Greenwood, Coe, and Gatewood.
- The entire building will be shifted slightly to the west to accommodate the larger footprint of the classroom wing. A side benefit is that the courtyard on the east side of the building will become larger.
- Regrading will be reduced to the minimum needed to provide a smooth transition between the two existing upper levels. The lower field grade will not change from the existing grade, nor will the bulk of the two upper grades be changed.
- The staff lot will remain on the lower level, along with a grassy area. The parking lot would collect runoff in a median rain garden and have a minimal number of trees in the staff parking lot. The SDAT asked for more trees to avoid making the parking lot a heat source, and to improve the appearance from both the school and neighbors’ homes.
- It is yet to be decided whether there should be ADA parking and an elevator or ramp up to the main building in the lower lot. (Costs are about the same for a ramp and an elevator on this site.) An elevator presents both maintenance and security issues. Whether ADA parking can be limited to the upper parking area (which is more practical) will depend on city and federal legal constraints.
- The overall landscape plan is much more basic, and now has no water features, amphitheater, or possible green roof at a later date. The larger inner courtyard will serve as an outdoor meeting place instead. It may still be possible to have some education around the upper-level rain garden.
A more complete description of the latest plan changes can be found here.
After additional minor changes, the plans will go for a shortened repeat of the value engineering process.