2009 Exhibition of School Planning and Architecture New Springfield High School Location - Springfield, Ohio Category of Entry - Project of Distinction Award Type - High School Firm Name - Lesko Associates, Inc.
New Springfield High School Front View
Community Environment: Springfield, Ohio is a small urban city of approximately 65,000 people. It is the county seat for Clark County. Springfield is home to Wittenberg University, one of the nation's top liberal art and science colleges, International Harvester (now Navistar) and the Westcott House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. During the mid and late 1800s, Springfield was dominated by industrialists. The City became a center of manufacturing for farm equipment and automobiles. Springfield is also notable for being the first city in the US to have a black mayor, Robert Henry, elected in 1966. In 1999, the School District elected to participate in a comprehensive Kindergarten through 12th Grade public school construction program administered for the state by the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC). The OSFC was established to help districts fund, plan, design, and build or renovate schools. As part of this $200 Million Facilities Master Plan program, the District replaced 23 aging facilities with 16 new buildings. The District serves 8700 Students housed in 10 New Elementary Schools, 4 New Middle Schools, 1 High School and 1 Alternative School. The New grades 9-12 Springfield High School is the largest OSFC funded school building to date. This one new facility replaces two existing High Schools and is designed for 2447 students. The High School is the 16th and final building of the District’s Master Plan. The District began their project with a commitment to engaging the Community. In preparation for their November 2000 Bond Issue, a series of Community engagement meetings were held to present Master Plan options and solicit input. Their commitment to engagement continued through the entire building project. Also, in anticipation of the large scale of construction that was to take place, the District and the City worked together to establish a “Chisels” program to train the local workforce to provide them an opportunity to participate in the building construction. The building specifications contained a requirement for contractors to seek laborers from a list of Chisel program graduates to supplement their workforce.
Planning process: One of the initial challenges of the New High School project was to determine the site location for the new building. This was to be a controversial decision due to the fact that the two existing High Schools were located on opposite sides of the City. A Blue Ribbon Committee was assembled by the District to make a site recommendation to the Board. The Committee was comprised of representatives from various stakeholder groups including the School Board, Administration, Staff, Teachers, Parents and local Businesses. The Committee met for a number of months and alternative conceptual site plans were developed for each potential site to be evaluated. As project budget implications were also important in the decision making process, cost data for each site plan option was also presented to the Committee. When the final decision was made to build behind the existing North High School, a series of Community Forums were held to review the proposed site plan and discuss any issues and the design and construction process. Another important issue to address during the planning phase was the need to accommodate two separate High School programs and unify them as one while making sure that their history, tradition, spirit and programs were not ignored in the planning process. The transition of bringing two student bodies together also provided unique opportunities for student involvement in the planning process. A combined student group from both existing High Schools called the Springfield High School “Spirit Board” was established to help in the planning and facilitating of the merger. Having determined the site location and identified major issues, a specific engagement process was planned and implemented to insure that all Stakeholders had ample opportunities to provide input. Due to the size and impact on the Community, the New High School engagement process had to be more substantial and include a wider representation of Stakeholders.
Planning process (cont.): A series of engagement meetings were scheduled at each phase of the design where various user groups from each school were brought together to provide input into the planning and design of the building. In each of the engagement meetings, we began by introducing the engagement process and the project scope. We then solicited feedback by asking each group to discuss the issues, express their needs, evaluate the design and make any suggestions for changes. These groups had multiple opportunities to review and respond to the design of the building as it was developed. The engagement process not only served to solicit input but also provided an avenue to help bring the faculty and staff of both buildings together around a common goal. This process helped to unify the two programs and begin the transition from two High Schools to one. Meetings were held initially with the Administration and Department Heads from both existing high Schools to finalize the educational program. Educators, Administrative and Guidance Staff, Food Service and Maintenance Staff, Students and Parents from both schools were all engaged during the planning phases. City officials and Community members were also engaged in the planning. The engagement meetings continued through the Schematic and Design Development phases. As the design of the building became finalized, a model and renderings were presented at additional Community Forums to give the residents a final opportunity to express concerns and provide additional input. The plans were presented to each user group and refined until each space was reviewed in detail, including technology, cabinetry and furniture layouts. The input from these meetings were incorporated into the design and the plans were presented to each user group for final approval.
Learning Environment: The New Springfield High School is a state of the art facility designed to address the program needs of the District by incorporating the latest educational trends shaping the design of school facilities today. Although the District knew there were inherent efficiencies in combining their two existing High Schools into one building, there was a concern about the learning environment in a large school setting. The District determined to explore the “small school” concept. This would provide students the best of both worlds. The school would have the full academic and extracurricular offerings of a large High School and, at the same time, the comfort and support of a small Learning Community. The “schools within a school” structure would support constructive relationships between and among students and teachers by grouping students together each year to take core courses with the same group of teachers, thus increasing the support students would receive from peers, teachers and other adults. When the “small schools” concept was introduced as a possible program solution, it was quickly endorsed by Stakeholders, including the Board of Education, Superintendent and Teacher’s Association. During that exploratory phase, over 70 staff members visited small schools across the country. This concept became the driving force behind the design of the building. In addition, thanks to grant funding, EdWorks, a nonprofit subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks Foundation, helped the District redefine their program and transition to the four “small school” High School by the opening of their new building in fall 2008.
Learning Environment (cont.): The School is divided into four small “Learning Centers” that accommodate 610 students each. Each Learning Center houses a self-sufficient program within the larger school building and contains its own Administration and Guidance Office suite. The four Learning Centers include the School of Humanities, School of Problem-Based Learning, School of Leadership and School of Global Perspectives. Each Center has a different theme and teaching strategy that were determined by Staff and Community involvement. There is a Campus Director and each small school has a dedicated Principal and support team. Each has its own identity, program, personnel, students and classroom spaces and is also identified by a different color scheme. The Classroom wing is organized into three levels. The upper and lower levels contain two Learning Centers each and the main level contains Classrooms for shared Science labs and elective classes. The Students also share the main core spaces, including the Media Center, Cafeteria, Music and Vocal Rooms and the Athletic facilities. The design of each Center also has designated Extended Learning Areas (ELA). The ELA is a flexible multi-purpose space that provides opportunities for small learning groups and an environment conducive to both contemplation and interaction. There are a variety of furniture types that can be quickly rearranged in different configurations to accommodate various individual and group activities.
Physical Environment: The building site posed a number of challenges. One challenge was the site constraints. The new building had to be constructed between the existing North High School and the existing Land Lab behind the school while the existing building remained in operation. In order to accommodate the new construction, a classroom wing at the rear of the existing school had to first be demolished. In order for the existing High School to stay operating during construction, a plan was developed to complete the project in two phases. In the first phase, the new High School was constructed. In phase two, the existing High School was demolished at the end of the school year in June and the parking area and the parent and bus drop off zones were completed during the summer. The entire project was completed for the start of school in September 2008. Another physical challenge was the dramatic slope from the front of the site to the rear. The design team saw this challenge as an opportunity to be incorporated into the design of the building. The slope of the site was used as a major design element that created a transition from the core spaces and Community use areas at the front of the building to the three level curved classroom wing behind. The curved classroom wing is the main feature of the New High School. The curved design limits the line of sight down the corridor and creates more of a sense of personal scale. The classroom wing contains an upper level and a lower level that houses the four smaller Learning Centers. The main level of the classroom wing houses all elective course Classrooms and common Science Labs. At the center of the building are two large courtyards. These spaces provide areas for outdoor learning activities and also serve to provide natural light to interior classrooms that face the courtyards. Daylighting illuminates the Classrooms and other areas where students learn as well as corridors and core spaces including the Media Center, Cafeteria and Gymnasium.
Physical Environment (cont.): Community use of the facility was also paramount in the design of the building in light of the fact that two High Schools were being combined. Community use areas are located at the front of the building near to parking for easy accessibility. The classroom wing is separated from the multi-use spaces in order to be able to close that portion of the building down while Community areas are being used. The self-contained Athletic Department has a separate entrance and can be used for evening and weekend activities while maintaining security in the rest of the building. It includes a competition Gymnasium with seating for 2300, an Auxiliary Gymnasium, PE and Team Locker Rooms with easy access to adjacent athletic fields. There is also a 1600 square foot Wrestling Room and a 4400 square foot Exercise Room. The Cafeteria also has a separate entrance and was designed with a stage that will also be used for a future Auditorium addition. Foundations and structure were constructed to accommodate the future fly loft and proscenium opening. The existing stage will be reoriented to face the opposite direction and function as the future Auditorium stage. The building is also equipped with state of the art technology systems. The building's data network, telephone system, audio/visual system, security system, lighting control and building automation systems are integrated and able to communicate with one another. The District’s goal of energy conservation is addressed by incorporating an energy management system that includes direct digital controls. In the fully air conditioned facility, these controls are part of an energy management system that manages and monitors energy use and improves operational and energy efficiency. To conserve utilities, the lighting in each room of the High School is either automatically controlled by occupancy sensors or a central scheduling system. The extensive daylighting in the building also conserves energy by reducing the use of artificial lighting.
New Springfield High School Main Entrance
New Springfield High School Classroom Wing
New Springfield High School Courtyard
New Springfield High School Media Center
New Springfield High School Cafetorium
New Springfield High School Main Gymnasium
New Springfield High School Extended Learning Area
New Springfield High School Main Corridor
New Springfield High School Rotunda
New Springfield High School Partial Side Entry