Will Maine’s Lewiston High School Soar with New Art Wing?

LEWISTON, Maine — In recent memory, many a public high school art department was under existential threat of permanent closure. Though that still might be the case in some of the country, the school committee of Lewiston Public Schools in Lewiston, Maine, has taken a decidedly different tack — they’re in the midst of conceptualizing a new arts wing at the 1,328-student Lewiston High School.

Though only in the proposal stage, the committee hopes to ascertain the cost and the procedural necessities of bringing its vision of a clean, well-lighted place for art in a collaborative context, versus its current solution of sequestering teenage Picassos in the basement. Though, once upon a time, this might have held appeal to the black trenchcoat-clad, clove cigarette-smoking aspiring artists of yore, issues of ventilation and light as well as noise from delivery trucks have proven incongruent with the program’s purpose.

At the recommendation of the district’s facilities committee, which received formal presentations from six companies, the school committee unanimously voted to hire New Hampshire-based architectural firm Lavellee Brensinger to oversee the discovery process. The firm has an office in Portland, Maine, and is also the architect-of-record for Sanford High School, which is about an hour southwest of the Lewiston campus and currently under construction.

Among those on the interview team was Lewiston High School music teacher Darren Avery who was keen on the firm’s proposed vision of the prospective arts wing. “They had a lot of open concept designs, which is really exciting,” Avery said to the Sun Journal, a local news service.

The firm also brought a civil engineer who explored parking-lot solutions as well as a theater expert who had suggestions as to the kind of performance space the future art wing could have. “These guys brought it all,” Avery told the Sun Journal.

In December, the public is invited to meet in the high school’s multipurpose room to share its input and identify stakeholders who can contribute to the conceptualization of the project with an eye to having a design concept and possible budget in hand by Spring 2018. For more information, visit ihs.LewistonHighSchool.com.