The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 8, 2012

‘A creek runs through it’ concept posed for new JHS

By Kelsey Ryan

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Joplin Board of Education got its first peek at preliminary architectural renderings for the new Joplin High School at a special meeting Wednesday night.

Architects from DLR Group, based in Omaha, Neb., and Corner Greer & Associates, based in Joplin, presented the plans to the board for its blessing to move forward with the design concept. The board did so with a unanimous vote in favor of the preliminary design.

The new school, which will be three stories tall and built into a hill on the east side of Grand Avenue, will be combined with Franklin Technology Center. Architectural plans include a creek that will run from north to south in the middle of the property.

“We’re exploring a water feature, and looking at opportunities to create (a way to) capture and filter water through the site,” said architect Chad Greer.

The feature also could be used by classes, and aesthetically it would help create a “parklike setting,” Greer said. Sports practice fields and several parking lots would fill up the rest of the space on the east side of the water feature.

“I think they’re using the topography of the site very well and considering not only what’s best for our kids, but also what’s best for our community and neighbors,” said board President Ashley Micklethwaite.

Micklethwaite said she could see the influence of the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team in the plan.

The school district expanded its building site with the purchase of 77 properties to the south and west of the tornado-destroyed JHS. District officials said they could lose out on millions of federal dollars if they rebuilt the school on its original site, which was located in a flood plain.

After seeing the architectural plans, JHS Principal Kerry Sachetta said he thinks the architects did a good job of trying to get everything on the site, and that they used the newly acquired property effectively.

“We have a place for everything, that’s the main thing, and we also found a way to blend Franklin Tech into the school so it makes sense,” Sachetta said. “I’m just excited for our students. I think when everybody sees this, I’m sure there will be a lot of ideas and thoughts about why didn’t you do this or that. But there were a lot of constraints on the designers because of the way we had to lay it out on the ground and so many variables they had to deal with.”

Sachetta said the three-story concept will help with the traffic problem associated with the destroyed JHS. He also pointed to two focal points: a performing arts center and a gym.

Developers have discussed expanding the east side of Grand Avenue to handle additional traffic because of the proposed closing of 24th Street on the south boundary of the high school. Architects also spoke with the board about parking at the site, which they hope to expand to 1,200 spaces.

The old JHS was about 244,000 square feet, and the old Franklin Technical Center was about 75,000 square feet. The new building combining both will have an estimated 450,000 square feet to accommodate the 2,200 students that will attend the school, officials said.

The architects hope to have more drawings for the board by the end of the month. DLR Group and CGA also worked together to design the temporary site for the 11th- and 12th-grade campus at Northpark Mall.

Community meeting

THE DESIGN will be presented to the community during a meeting at 5:30 p.m. today at the 11th- and 12th-grade campus at Northpark Mall.