The renovations and additions for the Warren Area High School project involved the upgrade and replacement of existing mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and technology systems.
Architecturally, the exterior skin of the 150,000-SF existing high school was replaced with new, triple-glazed, thermally-efficient, operable windows allowing natural light to penetrate classrooms and offices and reduces the electrical use by turning off lighting along the window wall and taking advantage of the natural light streaming into the building. The new skin of the building uses insulation to dramatically increase the building’s thermal efficiency and reduces the cost of heating during winter months. At the latitude of this building, the heating season begins in early October and continues to April. With new high-efficiency boilers, the District is able to take advantage of considerably lower heating bills. Air-conditioning is provided for the Administration offices, health suite, computer labs, special education and life skills classrooms, and computer equipment rooms. Learning spaces use indirect lighting fixtures to create an even lighting scheme for students. The air-conditioning is provided by a Geo-thermal well field located near the existing boiler room.
The gymnasium and auxiliary gyms will be renovated. The existing wood gym floor was installed in 1960 and has been refinished several times over the years. Four of the six basketball backstops needed to be replaced while the two main court backstops are relatively new, needing no work. The bleachers are not original but were replaced in order to meet today’s code requirements for safety and accessibility.
In addition to the age of the building, the codes and laws associated with life safety and accessibility required modifications to the stair tower railings, exit doors, door widths, interior wall, ceiling and floor finishes, toilet room fixture counts, and arrangement of plumbing fixtures, as well as emergency lighting and restricted access for building and student safety. The main lobby entrance and the numerous exits and access points around the building were equipped with cameras and hold close devices for visitors desiring access to the building.
The existing bus canopy along the north side of the building was removed and an improved access door and cover canopy accommodate the traffic of students commuting between the high school and the career center. Bus drop-off occurs in the front, or west side, of the building. A new main entrance allows reception office personnel to watch buses, students, and visitors arriving and exiting. A new access ramp was designed in the existing plaza area to allow those with disabilities to approach the main entrance.
Skylights were added in several areas to help natural light brighten both corridors and toilet rooms. The natural light is used by a solar panel in the toilet room to operate the faucets at the lavatories. In order to simplify student walking distances within the building, a two-story corridor was built between the two classroom wings on the east side. As a result, an enclosed courtyard was formed to create a new focus for outdoor display of art and investigations of the natural environment through science. There will be much consideration given regarding a mix of hard, soft, and natural surfaces inside the courtyard.
The courses were enhanced by the rearrangement of learning spaces to reinforce the STEM teaching methods adopted at several other schools in the Warren County School District.