With a target completion date of July 2015, Bunche Middle School, which began receiving renovations in the fall of 2013, will continue construction during the upcoming school year.
The renovation and facilities team are making great progress. Demolition is complete, the building pad is being prepared for concrete slab and walls are being erected.
The Bunche construction project consists of a partial demolition, renovation and addition. The construction and design team says the main focus is ensuring all spaces can be utilized efficiently. The gym and outdoor play area has been taken down completely and the during renovation the team will expand this space; rebuilding the gym and adding a performing arts wing. Bunche has a variety of fine arts programs including choral music, band, orchestra and dance.
The performing arts wing will include a new auditorium with a full stage, projection booth and will seat more than 450 occupants. There will be lobby space that separates the auditorium from the new gymnasium. The gym will include all new hardwood floors, pull out bleachers, practice courts, main court and will seat approximately 1000 people. The back of the gym will have locker rooms that lead out to a new 400 meter track and football field and an expanded softball field.
Surrounding the athletic fields and the school building will be a beautiful landscaping. Cooper Carry architect and project manager, Bob Just explains that there is a city ordinance in Atlanta that states for every tree you take down you have to produce another one, so the design team decided to use this as an educational opportunity for the students.
“We’re landscaping this site like an arboretum as a teaching school for the kids. There will be rows of different species of trees and as the seasons change the kids will be able to watch rows of tress from once species change colors differently than other rows.”
Bunche was originally built in 1977. Just said that during this time the classroom models that were being utilized no longer work for contemporary schools and will now be updated.
“It was originally built during a time in educational history when the open classroom was being utilized,” said Just. “Once open classrooms were considered not to be working very well, walls were put in and compartmented all of the classrooms into triangular shapes; making a lot of the space unusable and hard to teach in.”
The classroom building is part of the partial demolition and renovation. Classroom configuration was one of the major concerns during the design process. Not only were the shapes of the classrooms making it hard to teach, they were 30% smaller than the standard classroom size. The team tore the building down to the concrete structure. There will be brand new exterior and interior finishings which will provide more efficient space. The classrooms will now be APS standard at 750 sq. ft. and separated into pods by grade level. Each pod will have a computer lab and 9 classrooms with smart boards and a technology wall.
The dynamic new school entry way will be a double level courtyard with beautiful windows providing an abundance of natural light, more direct access to parking and a smoother bus and car drop off process. The bus lanes will be expanded to occupy more buses. The upper level will be dedicated for bus drop off and the lower level for car drop off.
Other updates include an all-new cafeteria, a new double level, high volume media center and an increased number of bathrooms.
Bob Just expressed that the construction and design team is focused on making sure the students love and take pride in their new school. “Just like with the North Atlanta High School, we’re trying to create a private place, so that when the kids come to school here; this school doesn’t just look like every other school they’ve seen. So they can say this is my school. It’s different.”
The project is slated for completion in its entirety by July of 2015, with the doors opening for students for the 2015-2016 school year.