A firm with three generations of experience in local schools will handle the renovation of Whiteville High School.
LS3P, formerly known as Boney Architecture, was tentatively awarded the project Monday by the Whiteville City Schools Board of Education. The $17 million project could begin in 2019, Superintendent Kenneth Garland said.
“We now have to negotiate a contract,” Garland said, “but they had an excellent presentation, and the Boney firm has a lot of history with Whiteville schools.”
The Wilmington firm, nearly a century old, has assisted the city with a number of school projects since the 1920s, including several buildings on the Whiteville High campus.
Four architectural firms were interviewed Monday during a marathon five-hour session before the board of education meeting. During the LS3P presentation, Paul Boney, whose grandfather designed a number of structures in the city, said he was looking forward to working with the city.
“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to bring new life to these old buildings,” he said.
The firm’s proposal included emphases on energy efficiency and multiple uses of facilities. Roll-up doors would allow the gymnasium and lobby areas to connect, and the cafeteria area would be redesigned to allow the space to be used throughout the day, instead of just during mealtimes.
A big plus for the board was moving the school bus area to the Powell Boulevard side of the 17-acre campus. The change will allow a roundabout for buses as well as facilitating covered entries for students. The bus zone would lead directly into the cafeteria, allowing students to go directly to breakfast without having to cross campus.
Covered walkways are also part of the plan for most of the campus, Virginia Magrath explained. Board member Carlton Prince said he would like to see similar passages throughout campus, a suggestion other board members also wanted. Boney said that as the project moves along, coverings and awnings could easily be added, depending on the budget.
“Our preliminary design would tie the whole campus together,” said Chris Hilt, lead planner for L3SP.
Plans call for a new dining facility, arts, classroom and lab space, and administrative area. Magrath also said the renovation would result in a well-defined front entrance of the school property.
“Right now, it’s kind of hard for a visitor to know where to go,” she explained.
The new plan would keep the iconic Whiteville High arch, but would funnel traffic into the new entryway, which would connect to the gymnasium and other facilities. Hallways could be closed and locked during ball games and special events, allowing access only to the public areas during after-school activities.
Hilt also pointed out that the new entry would be more accessible to people with disabilities.
“I have a 90-year-old mother,” she said. “I know how difficult it can be to drop someone off and negotiate finding the right place to go.”
“Our idea is to keep things as simple as possible,” said Tony Hanz, energy specialist with the firm. The firm will periodically test heat loss in the structure during construction, to catch problems early and adapt accordingly.
Hanz said that by taking advantage of technology and new monitoring systems, the new design could produce 70 to 75 percent energy savings costs every year over the current energy usage.
Another innovation in L3SP’s proposal is the use of labs and classrooms that will open into a secure courtyard facing Lee Street.
“Children learn better when they are outside and doing things related to their studies,” Magrath said. “With classes that open to the outside, the science classes and others can actually apply some of the things they are studying. It makes a difference.
”Boney said the proposal also takes into account security needs for the school.“We would use a layout with clear sightlines,” he explained. “We have to plan for things now that we couldn’t imagine when we were in school. It’s a sad reality, but it’s there.”
Centralized, secure entryways and limited campus access, along with clear sightlines from all points on the campus, are standard with most modern school projects, he said.
“We have set this up so you always know where the front of the school is,” he said, “and if there is a problem, you have time to respond appropriately.
”Phase One of the project will involve demolition and then construction of the new classroom building, which would be two stories, administration and dining areas. Phase Two will provide a new fine arts building connected to the main buildings.
Boney proposed an aggressive schedule for the project, with 12 months to design, bid out the new facilities, and four months to demolish the structures to be replaced. That would be followed by another year of construction, with commissioning of the new school possible in November or December of 2019. The current classroom building would be demolished last.
“We’re excited to get moving on this,” Garland said. “All the firms had good presentations, but the Boneys have a lot of history here. No one knows this campus like they do, and I think they will do an excellent job.
”Officials expect to begin discussing the contract for the project this week.