When the structural steel went up, so high it peeked over the wing of classrooms built in 1936, everyone on campus paused and exhaled a collective “oh.”
The newest classroom building, an inch less high than the city will allow, will bring state of the art science labs to a school whose chem room was built when Einstein was still alive. Knowing the decades of labs students will perform in the years ahead is enough to make anyone excited about the idea of the new building, but it was seeing that enormous metal skeleton rise up in the center of campus that shook all of us past the idea and held the reality of the thing up for us to marvel at.
New construction brings with it a mix of anticipation, annoyance, and awe. Our new building, so impressive now, spent months in the dirt. Before any resemblance to an actual building came planning, digging, and the construction of retaining walls. To see it rise from that dirt now, as loud as some of the steel work may be, is inspiring. Helping our school community admire that progress is one of the best decisions I’ve seen around a high school construction site: windows.
Knowing the curiosity of students (and teachers too), we asked our construction team if, when they put up the extensive plywood fencing around the big dig, they’d add a couple of plexiglass windows so we could see what was going on. Better than “a couple,” they cut a row of windows along two sides of the project and the result has been nothing less than amazing.
Windows in a wooden wall invite spectators, and those views of our school’s future provide our students and staff with a clear understanding of progress, an unimpeded glimpse of scale, and a total lack of mystery in what can sometimes feel like a less than transparent process.
They also provide an opportunity for creativity.
Around the windows, teams of student artists have painted murals that include the windows as focal points and show that whimsy and heavy machinery can coexist as long as both wear a smile.
…and then our ASB students added window boxes.
We have another twelve months before classes begin in the labs and classrooms of our new building, but as we watch the steel grow, the feeling on campus is one of excitement. You can see it through the windows.