Performing arts center, athletic facilities under consideration
A design team, led by the BBT Architects firm, is hard at work on the plans for School District 509-J's new performing arts center and athletic facilities.
Don Stevens, principal in the firm, and Kevin Shaver, senior project manager, held their first public meeting Dec. 6, at Madras High School, where they displayed preliminary plans for the additions.
The potential plans show the football field tilted 45 degrees to the west from its current position. The location is a result of a dozen meetings involving committees, focus groups and students.
Three factors played into that decision, according to Stevens: an existing bus loop on the east side of the building which the district wanted to maintain; underground utilities between the school and stadium, which would be costly to move; and inadequate space for the performing arts center without changing the field's layout.
"They're going to tear up the track around the (football) field, and they want new grass and a new scoreboard, and the stands, so the only thing left of the football field was the system for irrigation -- and it's old, so we thought it would be cheaper to turn it," he said.
Another factor in the decision was the location of the football field in the Willow Creek floodway. Federal guidelines prohibit construction of buildings that impede the flow of floodwaters. By turning the football fields, the performing arts center can be located in the flood plain -- a wider area with less stringent building guidelines.
If possible, the stands, which will hold 2,500 people, will be covered. The athletic facilities underneath the stands will include locker rooms and restrooms, a training room, officials' rooms with a shared shower and restroom, and storage space.
The athletic facilities will share a plaza with the two-story performing arts center, which will have about 600 seats, and an elevator to reach the balcony seating.
The center, which is currently estimated at about 18,800 square feet, will have a large stage to accommodate a band, a back stage with a green room, which will double as a practice facility and waiting room for stage productions, dressing rooms, makeup rooms and storage space.
If the design team can't figure out a way for both facilities to share the elevator, then the athletic facilities would have a wheelchair lift to allow access to the press box and upper row seating.
The architects considered two other locations for the facility before settling on the space adjacent to the athletic facilities: the corner of Buff and 10th streets, in front of the high school, and the area just south of the tennis courts.
The first area was discounted because of traffic and drainage problems, as well as the potential expansion of 10th Street, and the second area, because it was too small for a 600-seat auditorium.
"We're at a beginning point," said Stevens. "We're really just starting to scratch the surface."
A concession stand and ticketing area in the plaza will be designed to serve both facilities, as well as the baseball and softball fields.
The baseball field, which was recently redone, will be rotated -- switching homeplate and center field -- to save money in paving costs.
"We're looking at lots of ways to save money," said Darryl Smith, director of human resources and operations for 509-J. "We'll save about $250,000 by not paving all the way around the football field."
"I'm really excited about the possibilities," said Smith. "I think it's going to be something for the community to be really proud of."