architect, construction, ogden, itech

Bond measure is funding new buildings for these and other schools

In the five-and-a-half months since local voters approved the bond measure to rebuild or upgrade every single school in the district, VPS has been hard at work fulfilling its promise to taxpayers. But going from concept to closeout of a project, especially a large-scale one such as redesigning an entire school, takes time.

The first two schools to move through the process are Ogden Elementary and Vancouver iTech Preparatory. The former will be completely rebuilt in the same area as the existing school. The latter, which now is split into two locations 10 miles apart, will consolidate in a new building on the campus of Washington State University Vancouver.

Both schools have completed what’s known as the pre-design phase and entered into schematic design. According to Ogden project manager Karen Knauss of LSW Architects, the firm in charge of the architectural work for both schools and others, viewing the work to date is akin to “looking down on a piece of paper, you see how the building is laid out.” Now, the challenge is about “making the walls, roofs and all of those components come together to create something beautiful,” said Knauss, pictured above.

The overall process involves ongoing conversations with school staff members about needs, goals and education at large, as well as student involvement. Said Lydia Burns, the LSW associate who serves as the project manager for iTech and oversees the work on all the VPS schools that the firm will design, “It’s important for [the staff and students] to have a voice and to help us understand, as designers and engineers, how the building needs to work for it to function properly for what they do in the building.”

That means, for example, reflecting the school’s project-based learning focus at iTech. At Ogden, it means including places for students to tinker and create things and areas that can double as community spaces.

Both of these professionals feel passionate about designing spaces that work well for iTech and Ogden. “I really love working with schools and with staff and teachers. It’s an inspiring process,” Knauss said.

Added Burns, “There’s something about designing for schools that really is special.”

Look for more details on the designs for Ogden and iTech this fall.

Construction on Ogden is projected to begin in June 2018 and continue through August 2019, with the school opening that fall. Construction on iTech also is projected to begin in June 2018 and run through December 2019, with an anticipated opening that winter. The actual timeline is subject to change due to contractor availability, bond cash flow and other circumstances.