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New Ames High School Project – Q &A


Why are we building a new high school?

On April 3, 2018, the Ames community voted to approve a $110 million bond referendum for the construction of a new high school.

Where will it be located?

The new high school will be built on the same site as the current high school. It will be built where the current practice fields and parking lot currently reside along Ridgewood Avenue.

What is the budget associated with this construction?

The total cost of the project is $137 million. The community approved a bond referendum for $110 million in April 2018, and the new pool is being funded separately through a variety of state and local sources including the Secured an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) and Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) funds that are dedicated to school infrastructure.

Who is the architect and project manager for the construction?

OPN Architects is leading the design of the new high school and Story Construction was awarded the construction management contract for this project by the Ames School Board.

When will construction begin?

Phase 1 (June 2019 – June 2020) – Site work and building construction on the south part of the project – south of Ames High Drive and east of the stadium and swimming pool. This work will primarily take place over our current practice fields..

Phase 2 (June 2020 – June 2022) – A significant portion of the parking lot will be constructed and ready for use during the remaining construction timeframe. The new parking located in the southeast portion of the site is constructed in Phase 1 and will open in August 2020, allowing for the remaining building construction to take place in Phase 2.    

Phase 3 (June 2022 – August 2022) – Final paving and site work west of the building will take place over summer 2022, prior to the building opening in August 2022.

Phase 4 (August 2022 – March 2023) – Current high school decommissioning and demolition.

Phase 5 (Summer 2023)Site restoration for athletics and practice fields for the new high school.


Commons – The commons will be the first thing students see every day as they enter Ames High School. This area will have entrances to the competition gymnasium and auditorium and will be a great gathering space for students, staff, and community events. An open staircase will lead directly to the second-floor media center and academic pods.

Auditorium – Located north of the main commons area, the auditorium will be home to a variety of fine arts performances. It will seat approximately 1,000 people with floor space,

balcony, and some box seating. It will also feature an orchestra pit for performances.

Competition Gymnasium – Entrance to the competition gymnasium is from the commons area, allowing for an elevated view of the gymnasium floor. A four-lane track will circle the gymnasium as well as part of the adjacent practice gymnasium. With a capacity of just over 1,800 spectators, the gymnasium will provide a great atmosphere for our home Ames High events.

South of the competition gymnasium is the practice gymnasium and a smaller auxiliary gymnasium for activities such as indoor batting practice, as well as a weight room, and rooms dedicated to wrestling and dance.

Natatorium – Highlights of the state-of-art natatorium includes an eight-lane, stretch-25 pool complete with a bulkhead, starting blocks, a diving area with two 1-meter diving boards, and spectator seating for just under 500 spectators. In addition to the locker room entrances from the high school, an exterior entrance allows access for event and community usage.

Mental Health Suite – A dedicated mental health suite will be available to students throughout the day. This less trafficked space will include a couple of quiet rooms with comfortable seating and low-key lighting. This space will also have apartment living amenities for independent living life skills instruction.

Restrooms – Each bank of restrooms has a unisex option available for student use. This is in addition to gender-specific restrooms.


What are academic pods?

The academic wing of the new high school is broken up into two stories of what we are calling academic pods. Each floor has three pod spaces that include classrooms on the perimeter, with a large and varied collaboration space in the middle. This collaboration space is seen as an extension of the classrooms and has varied seating options for students, mostly glass surrounded/fishbowl collaboration rooms, and marker boards at various locations.

How big are the classrooms?

On average, classrooms are approximately 900 square feet, enough for a classroom of 28 students. Some science specific classrooms are slightly larger due to the equipment needed for those courses. How this compares to our current building is difficult to measure because of the varied sized classrooms in our current building.

Will teachers have their own classroom?

The classrooms are designed to be flexible and able to accommodate most subject areas. Teachers will not be assigned a specific classroom in the new high school, but will instead travel to where the students are.

Is there a student kitchen in the new building?

A kitchen classroom will be located south of the commons, parallel to the competition gymnasium and across the hallway from the food service kitchen.

Is there a greenhouse?

A Science Discovery Area (greenhouse), will be located west of the building, between the athletic practice fields. This will be built during Phase 5 of construction, after the demolition of the current building.

What happens to the prairie?

The prairie will remain intact and untouched during this process. Students will be able to utilize this wonderful amenity when an outdoor classroom is constructed during Phase 5 of construction.

Are there lockers in the new building?

A select number of keyed entry lockers will be located near the athletic sections of the building. There will not be lockers in the academic sections of the building. This decision was based on student feedback and daily practices of not using lockers.

What will be in the Career and Technical Education (CTE) wing of the new building?

The CTE wing of the school, located at the north and east part of the building, will host industrial technology, business, and art classes among others. In those spaces, students will have access to a variety of career paths and technology that includes dedicated maker spaces, screenprinting, photography, 3D printers, laser cutters, and a host of woodworking and metals equipment.

What will the music space look like?

Band, orchestra, and choir each have dedicated space in the new Ames High School. Based on input from the music department, each has a large group practice space, smaller rooms for individual and ensemble practices, as well as plenty of storage room for instruments and equipment.  

How many elevators are in the building?

The new Ames High School will have 4 elevators.

Will the building be American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant?

Yes, access throughout the building will be in compliance with ADA standards.

Will the school district pursue LEED or any other sustainability certification?

Many of the LEED considerations and other sustainable design features are included in the design of the new High School. However, the District will not seek formal LEED certification.

What are some energy efficiency features in the new building?

The new high school will include a variety of energy efficiency features including geothermal, heat recovery chiller system, building automation system, energy efficient building envelope design, LED lighting, variable frequency drives on motors operating HVAC equipment and pumps, and low flow plumbing fixtures. The building will also include structural consideration to allow adding a solar array in the future, but it will not be added at the point of construction.


What security measures are at the main entrance?

The new high school will have multiple security features that are now common in educational buildings. The video monitored main entrance to the building will be locked when school is in session, requiring visitors to buzz in to enter.  From there, they will enter a secure vestibule, offering another level of security.

There is a lot of glass throughout the building. Why is that?

The use of glass throughout the building was a conscious decision to allow for more natural light into the building. Natural light creates a welcoming educational environment for students and staff. The glass at the secure vestibule will be coated with a ballistic film. Glass used internally allows for more transparency and passive supervision for teachers.

How has active shooter scenarios been considered in the security features?

Active shooter scenarios have been carefully considered during the design phases of construction. As we noted above, the secure vestibule will be coated with a ballistic film on the windows, and multiple locked door entrances are required to access the building. From the commons, all other wings including the academic pods, media center, auditorium, administrative offices, and athletics, can be compartmentalized and locked down.

What are some additional security features in this building?

All exterior doors will be monitored, immediately notifying personnel if one has been opened. Additionally, security cameras will be installed at key points throughout the building.

Where is the storm shelter for the building?

The practice gymnasium will be reinforced to serve as the storm shelter for the building.


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