Thursday, May 22, 2008

New School Visionary Leaving Watauga County

Next week we are losing one of our strongest advocates for the New WHS. Angela Quick, Principal of Watauga High School, is leaving her position at Watauga. We are all proud of and excited for her opportunity to demonstrate her leadership and knowledge at the State Department of Public Instruction in Raleigh.

Working side by side at the "Groundbreaking".

Angela Quick has served on the New WHS Planning Committee and the Core Team for the New School since the committees formed in 2006. She attended every meeting and contributed to the design of our new school with a future vision voice and a practical curricular insight that was priceless. She would show up at meetings with the thickest stack of reference documents and the most notes. We always knew we could backtrack previous meetings and decisions from her files, and most often, truly, from her own memory. And at every opportunity, she went out in the field with hard hat in hand for site visits.Angela was always an advocate for versatility in the design of classrooms. Her science background provided her with the ability to look at the whole structure and analyse the relationship of the parts. She was able to see the big picture of the "total school design" and also able to see the individual areas for which she worked to insure their special needs would be met.

Ms. Quick was an advocate for science and worked to advance chemistry and overall safety for the department in our new school. She supported the placement of our children with exceptional needs in a centralized location as well as championed a state of the art theatre. She supported and encouraged college quality CTE programs and facilities as well as an ROTC curriculum. Her notions of high school security were far reaching and have insured we will have a safe school beyond the capability ever possible in any other school in Watauga County. Angela understood the value of superior and totally integrated school wide technology and wireless distribution. She has inspired us to seek the most current and sophisticated technology media available for our new WHS. Her fingerprints are all over the big design of this school. From suggesting "wings" that could possibly serve as academies or schools within schools, to centralizing student services while distributing administration throughout the school. Her ability to see the value of adequate custodial design or sophisticated computer labs as being equally important as handicapped access to bus delivery indicates her total facility awareness.

Angela fully supported and encouraged all aspects of our LEEDS efforts. She believed a healthy, bright, school would improve attendance and academic performance. She grasped the concept of the "school as a teaching tool" and readily perceived curricular components for utilizing the school design as a lesson in math, science, arts, community, heritage, and..... as a lesson in "well being" for the next generations.
Principal Angela Quick: we will miss your contributions to the future decisions about the new WHS. But you have inspired us and guided us in our deliberations on design that have brought us to this point. Farewell, thank you, and go forth and make a difference. We hope you will be able to convey statewide what we are doing successfully in Watauga County.

And we look forward to your return

to visit our new school

when we open in 2010!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

What's Underground?

You may recall the photo of the many huge water retention pipes from this post.... We now have most all of those underground! Especially in the area of the main parking lot. Which should be under an 8 inch gravel base soon, most of the electrical runs and waterways are in already place. Beneath, way beneath, the surface there is a network of waterways. The pipes are connected and in line, the concrete retainments in place, and the gravel base in place. There are a few remaining storm drains that look as if they are sitting up on top of the ground. But, no, they are sitting as they should be. In time, this area will be dirt filled and graded level to the top of the drain, or "manhole" as it is familiarly referred to when seen in the ground or road.
These are cast iron water lines. We will have our connection up and ready with the Town of Boone water system soon.
We already are on our way to being safe. We have our own fire hydrants in place around the campus. I think I recall there are six total to serve different areas and buildings on campus. And that is a good thing!

Follow-up on Retaining Walls Construction

Several readers asked if this was a structural wall. No it is a retaining wall and will seperate the building walls from the earth back fill. Hence retaining wall.
You may recall that in the post last week, we were finishing up Area 3 of the wall. Our school is divided up into "areas" for location reference and design. The classroom wings are areas 3,2,and 1.
As you can see, we are finished with areas 3 and 2 and are set to go next week on pouring the retaining wall for area 1. In this photo the forms have been removed and the fill area is exposed. The raised area on the left of the photo is grade level for the 2nd floor and parking lot. The front of our school will face east from there.
There were questions last week about the statement that the walls are "double matted, keyed, and cast in place". I explained "cast in place" using forms made and set on the site. "Keyed" refers to the joint between poured sections. In this photo you can see a groove, or "key" at the end of a cast section. This photo looks down the key, (or in my opinion the "lock" of the weld, since a key goes into the lock). The next section poured will fit into that groove, locking in place within the groove. This avoids having "cold" butts or flat welds and insures an interlock between sections that are held together by the lock and key and the continuous mats.

This photo illustrates "double matted". There are two grids of reinforcing steel in each wall. One in front of and the other behind. This creates a stronger and superior wall than having a single frame of rebar running up the center of the cast. The red wall is the inside of the form. It shines because it has an oil like releasing agent on it to ease the removal once concrete is poured. Another form will be placed on this side of the mat before pouring.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Level 1 Retaining Wall Sections 3,2,1

In the previous post we saw the steel reinforcing rods and mats being built, hung, and set in place in the running footers.

We have been steadily pumping concrete over the last two weeks! Our school is organized in sections and the retaining wall for section 3 is mostly completed.

This photo shows the concrete wall after the removal of the forms that are assembled on site. A crane is used to remove them and they are moved and reused as the wall progresses.

These walls are double matted, keyed, and poured in sections as they are "cast in place". We are not using precast concrete. At this mid point we have poured over 700 cubic yards of concrete. A concrete truck hauls about 7 yards! Do the math! We are just getting started.
In this image you can see the fill area on the parking lot side or front of the school. The right angle indicates where drains will be put in place and the backfilled with gravel to the height of the parking lot. Tons of gravel. Many tons!
This is a pier or doweled column support. The lower portion that flares out will be in the footer and the verticals will tie into that. In this photo you can see the beginning of the walls in Section 2 and 1. The piers are about 20 feet tall. To give you a sense of scale, the left corner of the photo is about 1/2 the length of the school. The distance between the outside retaining walls for level 1 is approximately 1000 feet.

Beauty is in the eye of this beholder. Hope you can enjoy this arrangement of pure line, shape, color, and form.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A+ Apple Tree Observation Station

I am often asked: "Where is the best place to observe the construction site?"
As the building begins to rise from the ground this summer it will be a fascinating project for the citizens of Watauga County to watch. Steel should begin to arrive any day now and over the summer we will begin to see rapid vertical progress.
There are only two locations for observation of the construction of our new high school.
The best site is this BLOGSITE! :-)

The Second location is from HILLTOP DRIVE beneath this Heritage Apple Tree. It is located on the south side of Hilltop Drive and is the perfect location for stopping by to watch the construction project.
On a side note, I have wondered how old this tree is and who planted it and what it must have looked like when the farm and the homes were located around it many years ago. This is one of the ones we chose not to remove. The row of pines beyond have been saved too. I plan to do a series of photos of trees on the site that are heritage trees. If anyone knows any stories associated with the site trees please send them to me!

To answer your questions of "How do we get to the new school site?" I offer this direction. Head east on King Street and soon after the intersection of 194 and 421 (known as the Newmarket Hardees) take a right just before the Wilco/Hess station on the right. Travel east on Old 421 and you will soon spot the construction site on your right (through our main entrance). But this is not accessible to the public and please do not block that entry. It is a good point of view to understand how we will enter our new campus. Continue east on Old 421 about 1/2 mile until you see the intersection of Cecil Miller road on your right. It is directly across from Mountlawn Memorial Gardens entrance. Turn right onto Cecil Miller and follow that to the top where it intersects with Hilltop Drive.

Turn right onto Hilltop drive and you will find an excellent observation location along the side of the street. Traffic is limited there and it is quite easy to pull over to the side and observe the process of construction.
At that point you are just above the softball and baseball fields. The main building will be just to the right of your viewing range. Soon you will see a building arising. Enjoy the pride. The Construction Management Headquarters building is the double wide white manufactured building shown in this photo. This is command central for all that goes on within their construction site. They are some of the nicest people, but please understand this is an active construction site and safety is an absolute on the entire 94 acres under their supervision.