After months upon months of planning, Grandview Heights Schools' facilities project is finally getting down to the particulars.

The project has moved from the schematic-design phase to the design-development stage.

"In the schematic design phase, you're trying to set the basic footprint of the building," 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.

A schematic design clarifies how the general features of a building relate to each other, he said.

The design-development phase will add details that can be included in the documents provided to firms interested in bidding on the project, Turckes said.

Turckes and other members of the project's design team provided an update on the process during community meetings May 15 and 16.

It will take about three months to complete the design-development phase, Superintendent Andy Culp said.

The final decision on the design will be approved by the school board based on recommendations from a core team. That group includes members of the design team, Culp, school board members Jesse Truett and Eric Bode, Grandview Heights High School principal Rob Brown and Edison/Larson Intermediate School principal Tracie Lees.

The recommendation the core team presents will be informed by the input the district is receiving from residents as well as a programming committee, staff and student user groups, an architect-review team and a districtwide environmental team, Culp said.

Voters approved a $55.2 million bond issue in November that will enable the district to build a new grades 4-8 building adjacent to the current Edison/Larson site and make major renovations to the high school.

Minor renovations to add security features to Stevenson Elementary School and bring it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act also will be completed. The same features will be added to the new 4-8 building and to the high school.

A recommended site-plan option that would open Fairview Avenue and extend it to First Avenue was the plan most favored by community members who provided feedback after attending the previous community meetings in March, Turckes said.

That option was favored by 49.4% of respondents, he said.

An option in which Fairview Avenue would be partially extended from First Avenue to a new parking lot proposed for Fairview was favored by 21.2%, he said.

A third choice, in which Fairview would remain closed with a turnaround, was favored by 29.5%, he said .

"The vast majority" of those who attended the March community meetings (61.5%) approved of using a portico entry for the new 4-8 building, Turckes said.

Although the configuration of parking at the high school and middle school sites would be changed, 160 parking spaces would remain -- the same number as exist now, said Richard Espe, a landscape architect and urban design planner with MKSK and a member of the design team.

The Grandview Planning Commission approved a major site-plan review and lot consolidation for the project April 24, and the commission and city officials offered some recommendations along with the approval, Espe said.

"The planning commission asked us to expand (the site plan) to add a youth playground (component) because there's no young person's playground in the area," he said.

The commission expressed a desire that the playground be conceived as not just a site for students in grades 4-8 but also have features for younger children so the playground would serve a broader population, Culp said.

Another potential enhancement would be an outdoor area on the east side of the high school to provide seating and a dining area for students and space where outdoor classroom activities could be held, Espe said.

The civic spaces and places study the city commissioned identifies the area, including the 4-8 school site and the Grandview Heights Public Library on West First Avenue, as one of the three core areas in Grandview, Culp said.

"If we can work on some collaboration with the city, there could be some enhancements of the original site plan" that would result, he said.

Those details are yet to be finalized, Culp said.

For the most part, the proposed interior layout of the new 4-8 building and the renovated high school are unchanged from what previously has been proposed, Turckes said.

The brick used for the new building would "honor and respect" and be similar to the facade of the original 1922 high school structure, he said.

A connector building would provide a link between the two schools, Turckes said.

"There will be a feel of one campus when (the project's) all done," he said.

The main entry to the new school building would be at the south end facing First Avenue and would include a new dropoff point, Turckes said.

Classrooms on the first floor of the 4-8 building would wrap around a new media center that would be placed near the center of the building, he said. Classrooms for students in grades 4-5 would be on the first floor, with grades 6-8 on the second floor.

The high school auditorium would be modified to add access to the stage for disabled people and improved rigging and lighting, Turckes said.

Academic spaces on the first floor would wrap around the auditorium, he said.

The "tech arts" area would be maintained on the west side of the high school with two lab spaces added for use by the high school FIRST robotics team and Science Olympiad students, Turckes said.

Band and vocal-music spaces would be clustered in the same general area as they are now.

A single kitchen would prepare food that would be served in separate areas for the high school and 4-8 building, he said. A new middle school gym would be placed west of the kitchen.

A new middle school commons and cafeteria would be built adjacent to and with windows looking into the media center, Turckes said.

The public is being asked to offer its feedback on two potential options for the wall on the opposite side of the commons, he said.

In one scenario, the words the district uses on the homepage of its website to describe Grandview schools -- historic, engaged, rigorous, open, intimate and curious -- would be displayed on the wall as a way to reinforce the school's culture for students, Turckes said.

The other proposed option would display "Grandview Heights Bobcats" and the district's bobcat image on the wall, he said.

The design-development phase will wrap up ahead of the next round of community meetings.

Those meetings will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 21 and 9 a.m. Aug. 22 in the middle school commons, 1240 Oakland Ave.

Each meeting will include the same information and agenda.

More information from the May 15 and 16 meetings, including a video of the May 15 session, is available on the facilities planning page of the district's website, ghcsd.org.

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