Smaller classrooms benefit students

MESA — The design for Cesar Chavez High School in the Phoenix Union High School District has incorporated six academic houses, or clusters, to create smaller classrooms that are conducive to enhanced learning and social interaction.

The $39.3 million school features Aztec motifs and was constructed with masonry, steel and concrete. The limited site for the building required the academic clusters to be housed in a two-story building. The classrooms for each cluster are for various subjects and functions: language arts, math, history, social sciences, lectures, and science and computer labs.

Each cluster contains internal circulation that wraps around a centrally located teaching center, which contains a dedicated desk area, copy and fax machines, individual computers and telephones, locked storage areas, small conference rooms, a reference library, small kitchenette and group meeting areas. In addition, each cluster contains a satellite administrative area with an assigned assistant principal, student support personnel and receptionist.

Two adjacent classrooms in each house contain a movable partition for large-group lectures and other activities requiring a more flexible space. Vocational education, fine arts and physical-education classes are located in other campus buildings.

Architect for the project was BPLW.


Renovation improves circulation

CHICAGO — Two suburban Chicago high schools, Highland Park and Deerfield, have renovated buildings to foster positive social interaction.

In addition to improved circulation in hallways and other public spaces, the $75 million project focused on increasing natural light and making entryways more inviting.

The most dramatic aspect of the renovation is the newly constructed science wings for both schools. The wings are made from brick and concrete, as well as less-traditional materials such as glass and metal. The library and media center at each school also were renovated to complement the new science wings.

At the 493,000-square-foot Highland Park High School, 130,000 square feet was renovated and 77,000 square feet was added. At the 327,000-square-foot Deerfield High School, 61,600 square feet was renovated and 140,000 square feet was added.

The architect for the project is Legat Architects.


Student center renovation features atrium

ORONO — Renovation of the Memorial Union at the University of Maine is scheduled to be finished by August 2001. Designed in the early 1950s, with its official opening in 1953, the student center was named to honor the 3,885 UMaine alumni who served in the military during World War II.

Two additions, totaling 51,000 square feet, will be added to the existing building, making the total area more than 120,000 square feet. The building will house the career center, student organization offices, study lounges, a pub and food court, traditional cafeteria, bookstore and student-run radio station, in addition to numerous informal gathering places for students. A lounge with nine computer stations gives students Internet access. The project, budgeted at $12.5 million, is the largest construction project in the history of the university.

The highlight of the project is an atrium with three skylights, including one that measures 36 feet long, and a waterfall that cascades between two flights of an open stairway. When completed, the facility will provide a warm and light environment for students looking to escape Maine's long, gray winters.

Architects for the project are Harriman Associates and Orcutt Associates.


School and YMCA to serve community

ST. PAUL — St. Paul Public Schools has collaborated with the YMCA, Ramsey County, the city of St. Paul and the A.H. Wilder Foundation to build the John A. Johnson Achievement Plus Elementary School and YMCA.

Completed in fall 2000, the facility houses an elementary school, offices and community meeting spaces in the renovated 75,000-square-foot school, with a 15,000-square-foot addition. Classrooms, school offices, health and social-services offices, special-education offices, cafeteria and commons area comprise the K-6 school. Most recently, this space was used as a warehouse.

The adjacent YMCA contains a gymnasium, pool, childcare, workout spaces and multipurpose rooms in the new 60,000-square-foot addition. The two facilities share recreational spaces.

Architect for the project was Ankeny Kell Architects.

Sidebar: Maintenance salary information released

Facility professionals at schools on the West Coast report higher annual salaries than their counterparts across the nation, according to a recently released online salary survey by, an online community for school maintenance and operations professionals.

Data collected from 43 states and the District of Columbia depicts a correlation between salary, student enrollment and length on the job. Among the findings: the average school M&O director has more than 16 years work experience in facility management, while almost 50 percent work in districts with student enrollment of less than 4,000. More than 85 percent of respondents received a 4 percent salary increase in the most recent year.

A results summary of the survey is available online at

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