Schematic design offers glimpse of new GMS

by nathan oster

The vision for Greybull’s new middle school is coming into focus.

Karen Kelly and Jim Beal, representatives of CTA Architects Engineers shared a schematic design for the building, to be constructed in the open space between the GMS Gym and Greybull High School, with Big Horn County School District No. 3 staff and board members earlier this week.

CTA is about 10 percent of the way through the design process, and the purpose of Monday night’s special meeting of the school board was to give the board a chance to weigh in on the work done to date.

Like the teachers had reportedly done earlier in the day, board members said they liked what they saw from the design.  More meetings are planned to further refine the design, which calls for a two-story building attached to the existing GMS Gym.

According to CTA, the new GMS “will provide 21st century technology, collaboration spaces and daylighting that supports and enriches the learning experience of students.  It will be a vibrant and efficient workplace for teachers and staff … and inviting to parents … and a good neighbor to the surrounding area.

The project will include renovations to the existing GMS Gym.  Built in 1938, it will receive renovations to its existing locker rooms and computer labs.  The locker rooms will be brought up to ADA standards with a ramp system, privacy screens for the showers will be provided, and receive new finishes.  The existing computer labs will be opened up into one large area, rather than the current smaller, partitioned areas.

According to CTA, the facility will be designed to 16,014 feet, approximately 5,017 square feet of the gym will be renovated, and the total construction cost is anticipated to be $4.69 million.

The construction timeline calls for the renovated school to be completed by the end of the spring semester of 2015.

Kelly told board members Monday that the budget numbers, which are set by the School Facilities Commission, are “doable,” but she added, “We think it’s going to be tight, so we are going to have to stay on top of it so we don’t go over.”

Given that, she said when the project is put out for bid, the essential elements will be included in the base.  Others will be defined as extras, or add-alternates, from which the board will be able to pick and choose, based upon its priorities.

In their presentation, Beal and Kelly gave board members an overview of how the building they are designing would fit within the campus as well as how its interior space would be utililized to best meet the needs of GMS students and instructors.

The primary entrance to the building would be from the east.

The parking lot in front of the high school, now designated for GHS staff parking, would be converted into a visitor parking lot and parent drop-off location for the new middle school.  In the process, several of the existing parking spaces there would be lost.  CTA is looking at expanding the parking lot to the south, but space in that area is limited by a number of large trees, which the board has stated that it does not want to remove.  One possible solution for GHS staff, who would be losing their parking lot, is better utilization of the parking lot on the south side of Buff Gym, extending east toward GHS and the Quigg Building.

The bus drop-off location for the new GMS would be on the south side of the GMS Gym.

From the east entrance, visitors would immediately enter a security vestibule, like the one at the current GMS.  To gain access to the building, they would need to be buzzed in by someone in the secretary’s office, which will be located next to the vestibule along with the offices for the administrators.

Upon entering, visitors would immediately find themselves in central commons area, with large glass windows facing the east (allowing sunlight to enter) and classrooms oriented around the central core, which would be circular in shape.

As it’s currently proposed, there would be circulation corridors that link the building to both the front and back of the GMS Gym.

The regular classrooms would be built to hold 24-25 students.

Two full-size classrooms plus the science classroom and an RTI room would go on the first floor.

The second floor would feature three full-size classrooms, plus a special education room that would be the same size as a regular classroom.

The core of the building would be circular in shape.  Inside would be the ELL classroom on the ground floor, possibly special education on the upper level.

Kelly and Beal said one of the key issues that has yet to be resolved are where to put additional restrooms, both for students and staff.  But Kelly said that after meetings with staff, “I think we’ve got some options” we can explore.

Kelly and Beal said the commons area would have an “open” feel, both on the lower level and upper level, which would feature a balcony with safety railing of some sort.

While board members were supportive of the overall concept, they did question some of the parking issues that would be created — in particular by the loss of parking spaces in front of the high school.

Beal said it’s unavoidable — unless a different location for bus drop-offs is identified.

Kelly ended the presentation with several optimistic notes, saying that she believes CTA will be able to design a great school within the budget set by the SFC, that the bids should come in low “because one of the most cost-effective places to be building in Wyoming right now is the Big Horn Basin,” and that teachers would ultimately love the additional space.   The full-size classrooms will be about 200 squre feet larger than the largest classrooms at the current GMS, she said.