Bird Houk Collaborative was selected to design the new Gahanna Lincoln High School Learning Center at a special Nov. 19 board of education meeting.

Thirteen companies responded to the district's request for proposals. The field was narrowed to three. Site visits were conducted and two finalists were named -- Bird Houk and Meacham & Abel.

Parent Lynda Buel discussed briefly with the board the advisory committee's decision to select Bird Houk.

Committee members toured Oakstone Elementary School, designed by Meacham & Abel.

"I did not like the outside," Buel said.

Committee members also toured Dublin Jerome High School, designed by Bird Houk.

She said Jerome was incredible and demonstrated that Bird Houk can think "outside the box."

Superintendent Gregg Morris said there was strong consensus from the committee that Bird Houk was the company for the job.

"This was a very strong, dedicated committee," he said.

Morris also commended Jerry Bird for the firm's willingness to work with the school district to develop a contract. He said Bird Houk was extremely supportive of the process.

The estimated cost of the new site is $11-million. Bird Houk has agreed to a fee of 5.5 percent of the project cost, Morris said.

Assistant superintendent Mark White said school officials began meeting with Bird Houk last spring and company officials had an open mind. He said there were a lot of pluses for selecting Bird Houk, including the company's headquarters in Gahanna.

"Bird Houk was the one to go with at this point," he said. "We have seen Bird Houk's work at Creekside. It is a beautiful project."

Parent Stephen Renner said there were clearly stated goals and guidelines. Each company that applied for the job was ranked on a grading scale.

School board member Windy McKenna said she was impressed with the ambitious timeline that district officials established. They hope to have the project finished by 2010.

It was only recently that the district acquired the site.

The school board voted unanimously in August to purchase 6.8 acres at 83 N. Hamilton Road, the former Kroger site, from Stonehenge Co. for $5.6-million. On Sept. 15, the district closed on the property.

"I'm delighted this is coming far so quickly," McKenna said. "I hope that we keep going at this rate, get this finished and get the kids in there."

School board president Jeff Carson said he was pleased all firms that submitted applications kept the environment in mind. He was pleased with the selection of Bird Houk.

"They know the pulse of the community," he said. "That they are a local firm means a lot to me."

Jerry Houk thanked the committee for the firm's selection.

"We're extremely pleased," he said. "We've worked with a lot of school districts over many years."