Look at the design of the new Pueblo East and Centennial high schools

Jon Pompia
| The Pueblo Chieftain

The process that will culminate in new East and Centennial high schools took another step forward with the completion of the design development phase.

Jack Mousseau, of MOA Architecture, recently presented the Pueblo School District 60 board of education with a preview of the features of the bond-funded high schools, as well as architectural renderings of the campus, and the exterior and interior of the buildings.

For the most part, the layouts of the two schools are identical, although East will offer three levels and Centennial two, with elevator access between levels. Both buildings are to boast 185,000 gross square feet: the maximum size given the $60 million budget for each.

The design capacity is for 1,100 students, with expansion capacity allowing for 100 more. The shared areas would be sized for 1,200 students.

With input from school staff and user groups, the buildings have been designed to feature a full sized competition gymnasium with space for 1,300 occupants; an auxiliary gymnasium with adjacent weight room; 500-plus capacity auditorium performance venue; and a commons dining area capable of accommodating 350 students at one time. 

The campuses will be marked by football and soccer fields, a practice field, and ample parking areas.

Each building will host a community room and on-site production kitchen, but distinct Career and Technical Education program spaces based on curriculum preferences.

To be located adjacent to the main entry, the 800-square-foot community room is to serve as a display space for historical memorabilia related to each school. The walls are designed to be lined with display cases, with the room themed to the school culture.

The length of the entry lobby also would offer display opportunity.

The school buildings, Mousseau said, are being designed for a 50-year life span.

Citing her own home as an example, board member Barb Clementi asked Mousseau about the feasibility of incorporating solar energy into the building.

With natural light to be ingrained in the design, solar, Mousseau said, is one of the sustainable components architects have been looking at.

“Solar has a very long payback,” he said. “What you pay for it today doesn’t pay for itself in energy production for a significant number of years. Plus, the footprint that you need, either on the roof, or around the building, to provide enough panel area, is extensive.”

Although solar may be used in a “demonstration” platform, in conjunction with Black Hills Energy, it likely won’t be used for the production of electricity.

“What we are looking at is what we call a ‘VRF mechanical system,’ which is a much more efficient mechanical system, to service about half of the building,” Mousseau continued.

And although more expensive, the energy efficient variant refrigerant flow system that is to be installed will pay for itself in about five years.

“We’re focused on energy saving-components we think are very cost effective and provide great benefit, with a short payback period,” Mousseau said. “And we think a VRF system is better than solar panels.”

“And maybe some wind,?” Clemente replied.

“Potentially,” replied Mousseau.

Board member Dennis Maes lavished praise on the design and features of the new high schools as presented by Mousseau.

“This is just absolutely beautiful,” Maes said. “What a beautiful learning environment.”

The community’s support in agreeing to pay higher taxes to fund the new construction, as well as renovations in other schools, is an act worthy of gratitude, Maes offered.

“I just want to say ‘thank you’ to the community for a little bit over a year ago saying, ‘We’re going to do this because it’s the right thing to do,'” he said.

“It’s exciting. It really is.”

With the design process to be finalized by mid-February 2021, state permits will be applied for and subcontractor bidding initiated. 

With HW Houston Construction at the helm, the construction phase is slated to begin in April 2021, with the process expected to be complete by January 2023. At that time, a six-month “soft” move-in will begin.

The demotion of the former East and Centennial buildings is scheduled to begin in June 2023 and take about eight months to complete.

Mousseau said that despite the pandemic and issues associated with it, “We have not lost any time in the schedule. We are exactly where we hoped we would be.

“I’m very happy that we are maintaining the schedule and continuing to push the projects forward.”

Chieftain reporter Jon Pompia can be reached by email at [email protected] or at twitter.com/jpompia. 

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