Since the April bond referendum vote, OPN Architects has been busy in the “programming phase” of the high school project. They have been meeting with various stakeholders that include the school board, administrators, teachers, and students to provide input on common design features, and to offer a platform where these groups can weigh in on their wants and needs.
In May, a small group of administrators and board members who are a part of the steering committee traveled with OPN to visit seven high schools in Minnesota that were identified as having some unique features that would be incorporated in Ames. Director of Facilities and Maintenance Gerry Peters said, “We learned about how other schools and districts approached teaching and learning, as well as some of their experiences, during construction. In addition to experiencing the building layouts, spaces and features, the tour guides shared their challenges, likes, and dislikes about the construction result.” OPN received reactions from our group to the buildings size and layout, as well as feedback and observations.
The information that OPN gathered from these sessions will be developed into a schematic design that will lay out the building space and how it will be used. Technology Director Karl Hehr, who is on the steering committee for the new high school, said, “OPN is gathering high level programming information, they are having teachers, administrators, and students all weigh in on what our new high school needs to have. Their focus is to put together the needs of students academically, philosophically, athletically, and put it into a building that fits Ames for the next 50 years.”
The programming process will continue as OPN follows up with faculty groups to clarify input. OPN will orchestrate a couple more local site visits to see examples of other high school departments, use of space, and experiences of the construction process and results. Community input meetings are planned for June. Bids could go out and site work beginning as early as next spring. The goal would be to have Ames students in the new high school by the fall of 2022.