By Aziza Jackson
ANDOVER, Kan. — In the fall of 2020, Andover High School (AHS) students will begin their year in a new, state-of-the-art high school designed for the 21st century.
Construction started in late October on the new $61.9million school, which will be located just east, or behind, the current AHS.The current gymnasiums, weight room, locker rooms and shops will remain. The new facility will be connected to that portion of the existing building.
The new AHS is the largest project among the $188 million in bond improvements approved by voters in May of 2017. The bond issue also includes replacing Meadowlark Elementary and building storm shelters and secure entrances, a district tennis complex, upgraded athletic facilities, a middle-and high-school orchestra program, an expanded preschool program and other necessary facility improvements.
“We were hired to do a district-wide master plan study to assess their overall facilities and we were hired in early 2016,” said Malcolm Watkins, project architect and vice president of SJCF Architecture. “We’re working on all the projects for the bond issue and we’re halfway through the total bond measure work.”
The construction team also consists of Hutton Construction and Icon Structures.
Over the last year, around 170 district staff, parents and community members participated in a facilities study process to identify district needs for the future. Participants evaluated solutions for the district and reviewed finance, demographics, technology, pupil transportation, infrastructure, community research and data for each building to develop a new vision for Andover’s facilities.
In December 2016, the Board of Education accepted the MasterFacilities Plan that included renovating or expanding all 10 district school buildings, support centers and athletic facilities. In addition, it proposes options to construct new campuses for Meadowlark Elementary and AHS. The cost of these new buildings and renovations is $188.605 million, for which the district has covered in the two propositions that were approved May 2017.
The new high school will be 298,000 square feet, and will include 240,000 square feet of new construction. The new district-wide swimming facility will be 15,500 square feet of that total.
The new building will replace a deteriorating current AHS facility. It will include flexible, 21st-century learning environments and improve safety and security improvements. Existing low, dark corridors and classrooms will be replaced by multi-level, open spaces with plenty of daylight.
Classrooms will be organized by subject into two-story pods that radiate from a central area, which contains multi-use collaboration spaces along its length. The north end of the main corridor terminates in an open lecture hall space called the “Learning Stair,” and area with tiered seating.This space can be utilized for staff meetings, student groups and guest lectures, as well as a large teaching space.
“Basically the Learning Stair is kind of an open lecture hall space so it’s kind of a shared collaboration space,” said Watkins. “It’s a two-story common space within the building that has built-in risers or seats for students to gather on and has the ability for presenters to present something and a balcony area that overlooks the two-story space.”
The new school will also include a 970-seat auditorium that includes an orchestra pit, an eight-lane, district-wide swimming facility that can accommodate competitions with seating for 250, a FEMA-rated storm shelters to accommodate all building occupants, and a controlled access main entry with security camera monitoring and buzzer entry.