MITCHELL – The main entrance to the proposed new Mitchell High School building makes a big impression.
The front portion of the new building, to be erected on the west side of Capital Street across from the current Mitchell High School building, features a classic look with concrete steps leading to a columned facade.
It almost has the appearance of a Greek or Roman structure, a style that has been used on buildings for decades on college campuses and for government buildings. And while this part of the proposed plan remains unchanged, it will accommodate students and staff when the new high school building is completed.
The style of the building’s facade was no accident, said Mitchell School District Superintendent Joe Graves. The school district building committee was looking for a design that would evoke the strength and enduring nature of a strong public education system, and the designers delivered the submitted plans.
“He tries to communicate the heritage that we have in education in general. He tries to be inspirational,” Graves told the Mitchell Republic. “Education is important, meaningful and something to aspire to, and that’s something we hope to show with the design.”
Robin Miller, lead architect for Schemmer, an architecture firm based in Omaha, Nebraska, with offices in Sioux Falls, said the chance to give the new high school building a majestic and unique facade came when it was decided that the best place to construct the new building was with its facade facing Capital Street across from where the current high school building stands.
It wasn’t the first choice for Miller, who is leading the design phase of the project, but logistics suggested it was the best choice given the current campus layout and accompanying restrictions.
But as is often the case with building design, Miller said the change opens the door to something unique.
“So we focused on the other side of the street. We were looking at both sides, but we had to ditch the east side and head west,” Miller said.
Miller said the building would be set back far enough from Capital Street that the building’s main entrance could face east, allowing for an expansive facade that could accommodate students, staff and visitors with a classic look. Miller noted that there are already design elements in place that would lend themselves well to an old-school look.
The style he adopted is known as neoclassical, a style very popular from the late 1890s until the 1940s, with a particularly active period from 1920 to 1929. It was directly inspired by the Beaux -Arts. and the Columbian Exposition at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893. The style tended to include features of classical symmetry, a full-height porch with columns and a temple facade, and various classical ornaments such as cornices at denticles.
Miller said the style was recommended by the building committee and he agreed the choice creates a timelessness in the design. The appearance will look classic even if it ages well in the future.
Building a new high school is usually a once-in-a-generation event, and giving the building a classic look recognizes the importance of the building now and in the future, Miller said.
The style also exhibits the ideals of strength and stability, Miller said, characteristics that suggest longevity. This gives the impression that the building has been around for a long time and will continue to serve the neighborhood well into the future.
“Neoclassical is a timeless style. It will not be dated,” Miller said. “It really is ancient history and in everyone’s mind, it will bring back memories of a good experience in their upbringing. It’s related to your story.
The Mitchell Board of Education got its first real look at proposed designs for the high school’s new building during its last regular meeting on Monday, June 13. As such, the council and several members of the public pressed Miller on various features of the design. , including the strength of its security features and its location across Capital Street from its main parking lot.
The board also heard the unfortunate news that, thanks to rising construction costs and inflation, the design was about $20 million over budget, paving the way for what could be cuts. of the proposal that would keep the project within its budget.
But those who spoke at the meeting seemed generally pleased with the design of the facade and the aesthetics of the building. Graves agreed, but said there were also other features that he and the committee were happy to see finally take shape.
“I think he has several things. The classrooms are a bit bigger and that’s a need we had,” Graves said. “The pedagogical models have changed over the years and the pedagogical needs are different. The space for activities, physical education and practice has improved a lot from what we had, and this is another long-standing need that we have had for many years.
The other facet that he says is popular with students and staff is bringing the high school curriculum under one roof, with the new design linking Mitchell High School with the current Mitchell Career & Technical Education Academy.
“For the past few years, we’ve had two high school locations, and (the committee) was looking forward to coming back to one location,” Graves said.
Now that the initial designs are complete, the construction committee will be looking to scale down the plans in order to meet its budget of approximately $42 million. Graves said the committee, which now includes Mitchell Board of Education President Deb Olson, will begin meeting every two weeks to continue its work on what he thinks can be cut and what is too much. crucial to be omitted.
“Our main focus will be how do we get that back to where we can make it work, and how do we do that?” said Graves.
As the committee works on the problem, Miller and Schemmer will work with them to produce alternate designs that match the committee’s requests. Miller said once he knows the direction the committee wants to go, he can get to work producing those designs.
“I’ll take my instructions from them,” Miller said.
Graves said he doesn’t expect alternate designs to be ready for the next board meeting on Monday, June 27, but he said the committee will have begun discussing the issue and charting. a path that will help the district build a building that will serve its high school students well into the 21st century.
Initial plans are a good start, he said. It will just take more work and tough decisions to make the building a reality.
“I think (the plans) are well laid out, they provide everything we need. We included a lot of teacher feedback early on and we’re still collecting (data),” Graves said. “I’m pretty happy with them overall. If we hadn’t had this weird cost disruption, we would have been in good shape. That’s going to be the issue right now – how to move forward with a plan that will still allow us to meet our obligations.