Baldwin High School renovation gets national recognition

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Built in 1939, Baldwin High School had not had a major renovation in the past 35 years.

"It was just getting old and needed updated to provide the necessities to help our student body -- better technology, wiring, more spacious corridors and more," said John Schmotzer, school board president of the Baldwin-Whitehall School District, said of the project that was completed in 2009.

The $62.2 million renovation has now earned a national recognition from American School & University.

The award for Outstanding Design was announced in the Winter 2011 edition of the group's Architectural Profile. The program is an annual one that recognizes outstanding design projects in schools and universities nationwide.

The project consisted of the demolition of most of the original building; renovation of the wings containing the gymnasium, auditorium, kitchen, boiler room and library; and construction of a three-story curvilinear addition integrated with the original wings.

It included more than 100 new and renovated classrooms, labs and resource rooms plus a new physical education complex with gymnasium, swimming pool, indoor track, fitness center and locker rooms.

All educational spaces were fully equipped with video, data and voice communications capabilities.

Security was enhanced through a new entrance and the addition of security cameras to outdoor public areas. Additional parking also was constructed. The project architect was HHSDR Architects/Engineers of Sharon.

In choosing the high school, the jury cited the renovation's network of corridors and its enclosed courtyards lighted by large skylights which function as assembly sites while providing natural light for interior classrooms.

The publication also recognized the school's incorporation of specialized labs, instruction rooms, gymnasium, swimming pool and state-of-the-art technology, including a world-class auditorium.

The auditorium was undertaken when the original project amount of $65 million came in $2.8 million under budget. Construction of an orchestra pit followed.

"The auditorium with orchestra pit is second to none," Mr. Schmotzer said.

During the phased four-year project, the school never closed to students.

"Sections of the building were closed off during the summer months and during the school year, but it did not affect the educational day-to-day operations," he said.

Superintendent Lawrence Korchnak called the finished product "not only practical and useful but beautiful and esthetically pleasing."

"The students have truly embraced the building,'' he said. "The design is the perfect blend of utility and conservation."

Margaret Smykla, freelance writer: . First Published February 2, 2012 10:30 AM


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