Ragan Ferrara, LEED APThe Big Sandy School District in Simla, CO held its Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on August 6 for the new K-12 school. Over 300 people attended, including staff, students, and community members. The evening started off with an informal Open House where people could walk around the new facility and see what was being built for the previous 12 months. Although some finishing touches were still being taken care of by Nunn Construction, the attendees were able to experience the great spaces. The Open House was followed by the Ribbon Cutting ceremony where Board members, students, and the District Superintendent all spoke.
As a whole, the project was a great success. The district was replacing a building that was first built in the 1960’s with subsequent additions each decade. This created a mismatch of architectural styles and a very inefficient layout. The mechanical and electrical systems were outdated, and the building was really showing its wear. The new facility is located on top a hill to several blocks to the west of the existing school. It can be seen from just about everywhere in Simla and acts as a community gathering place.
During the Open House, there was a certain energy, an excitement, that could be felt. These events are always a great experience for us as the designers. But this one was different for me. Being a town of around 600 people, this project took center focus for Simla. During construction, we were continually being asked about the progress while sitting in a diner eating lunch. It was the buzz of the town for the past two years, even before construction started. This buzz, this energy, carried over to the culmination which was this evening. It was a proud moment for a community that vested so much time in it. And it was a proud moment for me as a design professional.
Some of the building highlights:
83,400 square feet, single story building
Pending LEED Gold certification
2 Administration areas: one for the school and one for the district
3 separate but cohesive classroom wings for elementary, middle school, and high school
2 Gymnasiums with the Main Gym able to seat 1,600 people
A stage that opens to both the Cafeteria and the Auxiliary Gymnasium for function flexibility
A wood shop that Bob Villa would be proud of, that builds for the community