Schematic designs for the new addition and renovations at DeForest Area High School were presented Monday to the school board.
There’s not much wiggle room at the location.
“Here, we’re counting every blade of grass,” said Jackie Michaels, project manager for Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA). “It’s a tight site.”
The improvements were part of the $125 million referendum district voters approved in April, which also includes a new intermediate school and remodeling of the Middle School and Yahara Elementary School.
“We’re well on our way with design,” said Michaels.
Michaels and EUA Senior Design Architect Mike Schwindenhammer were on hand Monday to walk school board members through the designs, while also providing updates on the intermediate school and maintenance building.
Michaels said one round of interviews with high school staff had been completed, with another session coming up Sept. 23-24. Presentations of updated design concepts, space needs and other details, including storage issues, will be made at the upcoming sessions.
Michaels said EUA is coordinating with the Village of DeForest to keep village officials informed on the project.
“Just so they understand what’s coming their way,” said Michaels.
The high school portion of the project includes a new addition for classrooms and improved circulation, a new library media center, an enlarged student commons area, a new main entry and front office, a new pool and a three-station gymnasium.
There will also be a new area for student parking on the northwest side of the school. It’s one of two new parking lots. Schwindenhammer said, “There will be a net gain of parking.”
The library media center will be moved from its current space to the north where the little theater sits currently.
“The way libraries are done now is different from when I was a child,” said Schwindenhammer, who explained how they’ve changed to be more open, with smaller spaces for group projects.
There will also be a little area in front, like a cafeteria at a bookstore.
“It’ll be a place to hang out before school, after school,” said Schwindenhammer.
He said a similar set-up was created at Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha, where teachers told Schwindenhammer that the relaxed nature of the space made it easy for students to approach them about a problem.
The existing greenhouse is also being relocated. EUA designers are working with the agriculture department to figure out a good location.
There will also be nine newly reconfigured science labs.
“We’re trying to create space where students can go and work in small groups,” said Schwindenhammer. “It’s different from how schools were built 10 to 20 years ago.”
A secure entry, where visitors will be buzzed into the main office, is also part of the plan. The office will include space for principals, the athletic director and conference rooms.
One of the concerns Schwindenhammer talked about was simplifying circulation throughout the school and alleviating congestion. He also discussed the central commons area, which he said would provide more space for collaboration, a student waiting for a ride home, gatherings of four to five students or for students who just want to sit by themselves.
Schwindenhammer also went through the new pool and three-station gymnasium, which will house the main competition space for varsity and junior varsity events. Two of the three floors in the gymnasium area will be hardwood, with the other having a sports floor more compatible for indoor practice for sports such as baseball, softball and soccer on days with inclement weather.
Schwindenhammer said they are still figuring out how the different spaces will work with different events.
For the pool, the plan includes second-floor spectator seating. There will be an elevator attendees can use to get there.
Elsewhere on the second level, part of the remodeling will take place where the existing pool is, as well as the existing wrestling and weight room areas. The renovations to these areas will expand uses for other activities, such as dance, cross training, and yoga.
EUA staff said they will continue gathering input from staff, refining designs, revising site plans with village and district input, and review design revisions with staff and district leadership.
Michaels also reported on progress with the intermediate school, to be constructed near Windsor Elementary School just off North Towne Road. That’s also where a new maintenance building will be located.
A decision was made to go with angled parking for buses at the site, so they will have more space to queue up and won’t be required to back up.
She also talked about having low-maintenance landscaping at the intermediate school, with shrubs and other drought-tolerant plants. Prairie grass will be included. There will be two playgrounds – one to the south and one to the north.
Michaels said EUA is trying to design it so it will blend in with its surroundings in the Village of Windsor.
The project also will provide opportunities to improve stormwater management at the site.