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Animas High School unveils building designs

Architecture places a premium on using existing topography, viewsheds
This architectural rendering of the new Animas High School shows an outdoor patio designed as a student gathering space and an outdoor learning venue at the northern end of the new school building. (Courtesy of Animas High School)

Animas High School has unveiled a building design that integrates an existing 15-foot drop in topography and uses skylights and glass-enclosed stairways to take advantage of natural light.

Architects from AndersonMasonDale Architects presented features of the new school building, which will be located on the Fort Lewis College campus, in a Zoom meeting Monday.

The 40,500-square-foot building will feature two levels with the common area extending through the central spine of the building, culminating in an atrium in the building’s southern end.

The two story atrium, the Commons, will be a multiuse space, where public gatherings can be held to display student work and community events can be held. Its main daily function will be the student dining area.

A small kitchen will be adjacent to the atrium. It will serve not only as the kitchen for students’ daily lunches but a culinary classroom as well.

“The Commons becomes the punctuation of the public space that permeates throughout the building,” said Joey Carrasquillo, an architect with AndersonMasonDale.

The atrium will feature views of the FLC campus as well as the La Plata Mountains beyond.

An architectural rendering from AndersonMasonDale Architects of the new Animas High School that will be built on the campus of Fort Lewis College. (Courtesy of Animas High School)

“In spirit, the building is relatively simple,” Carrasquillo said. “It is effectively a double-loaded corridor, but what we have done is rotated sections of the building to both respond to the site features (the topography changes), but perhaps more importantly to think about the interior environment as a landscape that stitches the programming together,” he said.

John Graham with AMD Architects said construction is expected to start in August with a tentative completion date set for July 31, 2022.

The final guaranteed maximum price for the building is expected to be determined by June 18.

AHS Head of School Sean Woytek said several public meetings are planned before groundbreaking and during construction.

The $20 million building will be sited on a 3.2-acre parcel just south of the Bader-Snyder Residence Halls. The topography drops 15 feet from east to west on the site.

Currently, AHS has 195 students. The new building will be able to house up to 250 students.

Natural light and accommodating natural topography changes are featured in the design of the new Animas High School. (Courtesy of Animas High School)

Carrasquillo said the elevation changes will be integrated into the building design, and several separate parking areas will be broken up by green space, which is designed to handle stormwater.

The building will feature interior ramps to accommodate natural changes in topography. The main stairwell will also be glass-enclosed and feature views of the La Platas and FLC’s campus.

“The building is strategically planned to capture the viewsheds,” Carrasquillo said.

The north end of the building will have an outdoor shaded area that can be used as a learning space and a student patio gathering area.

Other landscaping features are designed to host outdoor learning opportunities.

Classrooms will be placed on the northwest and southeast portions of the building.

The northeast side of the building will have science labs, shop spaces and science classrooms on the second level.

The southwest section will be dedicated to art space. It will feature a digital studio and serve as a pavilion integrated into the landscape with views to the southwest.

Administrative offices will be placed near the entrance.

“The administrative offices at the front suites and front entrances on Level 1 and Level 2 are positioned to be the eyes and ears of the entry of the school ,” Carrasquillo said.

Wall space will allow for display of student projects and skylights are used to bring in natural light throughout the interior.

The exterior will use weathered steel shingle panels and different stucco textures. Using stone, common in FLC buildings, was cost-prohibitive, Graham said.

“Ultimately, the building will become a canvas to celebrate the culture and spirit of the school,” Carrasquillo said.


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