Streetsboro -- School officials may select either one or two architectural companies this week to work to upgrade the schools, Superintendent Michael Daulbaugh announced at the March 13 Streetsboro Board of Education meeting.
"This is an exciting time," Daulbaugh said.
School leaders conducted private interviews during the weekend of March 15-16 with the three architectural firms on the school district's short list of candidates. They are:
• FMD Architects -- www.fmdarchitects.com -- has constructed school buildings in the Barberton, Keystone, Mogadore and Field school districts, along with various projects at Stark State College and the University of Akron.
• Then Design Architecture (TDA) -- www.thendesign.com -- has constructed school buildings in the Lorain, Cloverleaf, Dalton, Willoughby-Eastlake, Mayfield and Massillon school districts.
• VSWC Architects -- www.vswc.com -- has constructed school buildings in the Mason, Logan-Hocking and Loveland school districts and Ursuline College.
A new high school and stadium will likely be built on Route 14 between Deer Crossing Boulevard and Laurel Lane. At the Route 303 school campus, the existing high school will be heavily renovated to accommodate grades six through eight, and an addition will be built at Campus Elementary School, following the approval of a bond issue in November. The current middle school and Wait Primary School will eventually be closed. Henry Defer Intermediate School would not be renovated, but would only serve fourth- and fifth-graders, according to the district's plan.
The project will be divided into two portions -- constructing a new high school and stadium on Route 14 and the building projects at the Route 303 campus. That is why two architects could be named.
"As a part of that [interview] process, each architect had to identify a school they were proud of [and] that would represent our project and the work they could do," Daulbaugh said.
Sites selected by the architects were in Barberton, Independence and the Logan-Hocking school district in the Logan area.
Daulbaugh said although the process was not designed for residents to go on the recent trips to the three school sites, they'll be able to take those trips in the future.
"The community and staff need to know that once we select an architect and begin the design process, we're going to get a lot of feedback from core groups of people," Daulbaugh said. "We're going to assign different groups of people for different parts of the project. Those people are going to get to visit sites around Ohio and around this area. You're going to get to go and see what Independence [school leaders] dreamed about. You're going to walk away and say, 'I like that. I didn't like that. And now let's make that Streetsboro's dream.'
School Board Vice President Brian Violi said driving about three hours, 20 minutes to the Logan-Hocking school district "may have seemed like a bit of a chore, but when I got there, it was extremely well worth the time and effort. If we have trips [that are that long], it will be worth your [residents'] time."
After making trips to the three locations, Daulbaugh said he "had a 'wow' factor in every place."
"Often, one of the criticisms of OFCC (Ohio Facilities Construction Commission) projects are that they are just block walls, these mausoleums or hospital-type structures," Daulbaugh said. "But that could not be further from the truth. These buildings were absolutely beautiful. They reflected the needs and wants and the flavor of the community. Each one was very different."
Daulbaugh said he has confidence in all three architects on the short list.
"All three of those architects put together buildings, auditoriums and stadiums that will make this community proud," he said.
Daulbaugh said Streetsboro "doesn't seem to have an architectural stamp that identifies it."
"When this project is over, I'm confident that whichever architect we end up choosing, we are going to have a beautiful architectural stamp, not only on Route 14 [high school and stadium], but also on our current [Route 303] campus," he said.
Daulbaugh said when he walked into an auditorium in one of the districts, which he declined to identify, "we saw one where they spent less than [Streetsboro plans to], and they built it with more seats than what we originally identified."
"We identified an 800-seat auditorium with various bells and whistles for a [cost] of $2.8 million," he said. "This particular [cost] was about $2.2 million, and it had over 1,000 seats [in the auditorium] along with an orchestra pit and an extra large stage. Off on the side were wings that were large enough that they would accommodate 12- to 16-foot high props, plus dressing rooms, lighting and state-of-the-art sound. When we have this auditorium [in Streetsboro], it's going to be amazing.
"I had an opportunity to walk into a brand new football stadium," he said. "It was a little bit larger than what we're going to build, but it's the same concept. To walk across an eight-lane track, to walk onto a turf field -- with snow all around you and the turf field was dry -- it felt like carpet. The stands were amazing, and there was a state-of-the-art sound system.
"These projects were all absolutely gorgeous," he said.
School Board member Denise Baba agreed, saying, "I think this community will be more than satisfied and pleased with any of the three architects that are chosen out of this group. They're not square-block buildings. I believe where you live, work, go to school -- the environment has an influence on you. To be able to walk into some of these buildings, and it's a place where you want to be because it's aesthetically pleasing and comfortable, that will contribute to the educational process."
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