Throughout the discussions leading up to last November's vote on a school facilities bond issue in Grandview Heights, the assumption was the existing middle school commons and gym would have to be demolished to allow construction of a new grades 4-8 building.

That will not be necessary in the draft schematic design presented at community meetings held March 27 and 28 in the commons.

"The school district challenged us if there was a way to avoid that," said Steve Turckes, lead architect for the project and a member of the design team that includes architects from both Perkins+Will and Moody Nolan.

The proposed schematic design will allow the commons and gym to operate throughout the construction project, because it places the main entrance to the new middle school on the south side of the building, he said.

The main entrance to the existing Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School is on the building's west side, off Oakland Avenue.

The new building will be constructed in the open space between Grandview Heights High School and the Edison/Larson building.

In November, voters approved a $55.2 million bond issue to fund the construction of the new grades 4-8 school and major renovations to the high school.

The new school building will be constructed before the high school renovations. After that building is completed, high school students will move into the new school temporarily while their school is renovated.

The current Edison/Larson building will remain in operation throughout the project. That building and the kindergarten annex building located opposite the school off West First Avenue will be demolished as the project's final component.

The proposed schematic design is only a draft at this point, Superintendent Andy Culp said.

"Until we get more exact cost estimates, nothing will be final," he said.

"Design development would be the next phase," Turckes said. "The school board will want to know before we go into that phase that we have a project where the scope meets the budget."

A district core team that includes members of the design team, the superintendent, school board members Jesse Truett and Eric Bode, high school Principal Rob Brown and Edison/Larson principal Tracie Lees will make a recommendation for the final project design to the school board, Culp said.

The board will vote to approve the final project design, he said.

The design team expects to provide a set of design documents on or soon after Friday, April 5, to Elford Inc., the firm serving as construction manager at risk, and Corna Kokosing, which is serving as a consultant to Elford, Turckes said.

Those companies will use the design documents to determine their estimates of "what they think the project will cost," he said.

In the draft schematic design, the high school auditorium will remain in its current central location on the building's first floor, Turckes said. The space will have improved sight lines and access to the stage for disabled people.

The high school administrative offices will be located toward the front of the building, and the school's entrance will have enhanced security components, he said.

Enhanced security also will be included in the grade 4-8 building and added to Stevenson Elementary.

Along with a variety of classrooms, the high school's first level also will include spaces for collaborative activities and areas where students will be able to work together on projects, Turckes said.

The "tech arts" wing of the building, which includes a wood shop and art and robotics classrooms, will remain on the high school's west side, he said. Two flex labs, which will be used by the high school FIRST robotics team and for Science Olympiad students, will be added to the wing.

A consolidated music area will include space for the high school orchestra, and band and vocal music classes, as well as smaller rooms for instrument storage and practice areas, Turckes said.

The high school gym will remain in place, he said. New middle school locker rooms will be installed adjacent to the high school gym and will be available for use by visiting teams during games and events.

In the new school building that will be constructed south of the high school, fourth- and fifth-grade classes will be on the first floor, Turckes said.

As community members strongly desired, the special-education classrooms will be placed on the first floor, he said. In the current Edison/Larson building, special-education classes are on the second level.

The first-floor classrooms will be arrayed around the media center, which will serve as "the heart and center" of the new 4-8 building, Turckes said.

A swing classroom is included in the schematic design to give the district flexibility to address future enrollment bulges, he said.

A kitchen will be shared by the two school buildings, with separate serving areas for each school on either side of the kitchen, Turckes said.

A loading area for deliveries and trash removal will be adjacent to the kitchen area off Oakland Avenue.

The high school's second level will include science classrooms on the Oakland Avenue side of the building, he said.

A new lab with prep area will be installed.

The high school media center will remain on the second floor, but will be reoriented and will include several conference rooms that students can use to meet and work on special projects, Turckes said.

The district's central offices also will be on the second level, he said. At the new school, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade classrooms will be on the top floor, Turckes said.

The demolition of the existing Edison/Larson building will provide about 2.5 acres of space, which will be used for parking, the school playground and the dropoff area for the new school, said Richard Espe, a landscape architect and urban design planner with MKSK and a member of the design team.

Sufficient space will be available to install a proposed youth soccer field, he said.

Three site-plan options are under consideration, Espe said.

In the first option, Fairview Avenue would be extended to West First Avenue, he said.

A new parking lot would be located off Fairview Avenue, Espe said.

There would be 160 parking spaces, the same number that now exists along the high school and Edison-Larson properties, he said.

Another site-plan option would feature a partial extension of Fairview from West First to the new parking lot.

In both of these options, the soccer field, playground and dropoff area would be placed off Oakland Avenue. In a third site-plan option, the parking lot would be installed off Oakland, with the dropoff and playground located adjacent to the lot.

The soccer field would be placed adjacent to a turnaround on Fairview Avenue, Espe said.

The roadway would not be extended.

The third option "is very similar to what you have today," at the Edison/Larson site, he said.

The next community engagement meetings will be held at 7 p.m. May 15 and 9 a.m. May 16 in the commons, 1240 Oakland Ave. Each meeting will include the same information and agenda.

At the May meeting, "We will be sharing the outcome and updates resulting from our design development meetings, including a more detailed architectural design," Culp said. "This will include more details related to individual classrooms, collaboration spaces, exterior aesthetics and 3D renderings."

"Importantly, we will be soliciting additional feedback from our community regarding those updates," he said.