“We really wanted windows,” said Odle Middle School Office Manager Marilyn Kelley about the staff’s main request for the new building, currently under construction.
A school that was nearly windowless will now have large windows, allowing ample natural daylight. “Essentially what they did, was that they narrowed the footprint of the school, put it up two stories and moved it just a little bit southwest,” said Barry Roberts director of bands. “So with that orientation you’ve got the entire school side of it facing the west side in the afternoon to get the light into the building.”
Roberts and Kelley are both on Odle’s design team which was formed three years ago. Principal Eric McDowell organized the team to solicit staff feedback on what was important to staff for the new facility. The team worked in partnership with Integrus Architecture on the design of the building.
Odle’s new state-of-the-art building will be 150,000 square feet, which is 50,000 square feet larger than the former building. It will complement student learning with “flexible learning spaces, 10 STEM classrooms, sustainable design and a Family Connections Center,” said McDowell.
Science, art and fabrication spaces are spread throughout the building so that “kids are being exposed to all subjects as they travel through the building,” said project manager Kyle McLeod.
The school’s Career and Technical Education program is showcased in the front entry with a fabrication space front and center.
The arts will be supported in the new facility with a full dance studio in the multi-story gym, and flat floors for the band and orchestra. Typically music space has tiered floors, but flat floors allow for more flexibility with the arrangement of chairs for various groups, said Roberts.
Along with flexibility, staff will have a quiet place where they can go during their prep periods. There will be classroom clusters and then inside those clusters there will be a separate designated office space with a door.
Solar energy will help power the school with 200 kW of solar panels installed on the building. This will be the largest array the district has put on a building yet, according to McLeod.
There will also be solar thermal, radiant floors in a lot of the common areas. “We will use the mass of concrete to warm people,” said McLeod. The district used this method in the new transportation building and it was a huge success.
Outside the walls of the new building are wetlands which are being restored. “I think the architects have done a really good job of trying to bring the natural environment up tight to the building and make it as engaging as possible for the students and the community,” said McLeod.
Another important item for consideration on the new campus was the traffic flow. McDowell said the new campus will have a long drop off loop to alleviate traffic concerns.
Odle’s history is also being preserved and will be visible at the new facility. All of the concrete from the old site was recycled and made into structural fill for the new campus. Trees were salvaged, bleacher wood will be used for display cases and wood from the old hallways will be repurposed. During demolition the construction team found a sign that was from the former Odle Junior High. It was well preserved and will have a home at the new facility.
Staff and students at Odle are excited about the new building, scheduled to open Fall 2016. McDowell tries to visit the project monthly and at times will take photos of the progress to send to staff.
McLeod said, “It’s pretty neat how it’s all coming together.”