Thursday, October 30, 2008

New Aerial Photos for October

This new photograph from SkySite Aerial is my most favorite of our campus posted so far. It was taken on October 23, 2008 on a flyover approaching from the East looking West. Notice the color in the trees!

It is autumn and in just 7 short months since construction truly began to commence we have a full campus design and the main building mostly under roof! According to Don Critcher, WCS Project coordinator,

we are currently 44 days ahead of schedule and we are at the 29% mark on completion!

Most of the masonry veneer has been completed on section 3 (seen on the left in photo above) and can be seen also from our main entrance on old 421. It looks great, I love our brick and split face masonry choice. As you can see above, roof underlayment has been completed in some areas and in the coming month you can look for the installation of our roof panels as well as the windows. This will really change the appearance of our building from the outside.

We are beginning the work on the retaining walls for the stadium and the auxiliary field. You can see the form of the stadium and track taking shape.

Below is an aerial shot approaching from the North looking South. Can you locate the features of our campus? Think about it before looking at the annotated picture coming up next :-)

Where are the tennis courts? Where will the field house be? How about bus parking and student drop off? And, which way to Boone?

Annotations and details are approximate by my best guess.
All aerial photo graphs are provided by

SkySite Aerial Photographs.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Geothermal Well Drilling

What is this machine and why is it floating up in the air?

That would be a super "wheelie" for such a low rider!

And indeed it is a low rider, down into the ground! This is a well drilling truck and machine. It is stabilized up off the ground as the drill does the work.

On the tail end is the business end of this machine. Notice the drill shaft doing the work below the truck operated by the machinist at the controls.

These drills are not drilling "for" water but rather, drilling a place to "put" water! These are our geothermal wells.

A number of people have asked about the many pipes sticking up out of the baseball field.
One even asked if that was going to be Pete's irrigation system! :-)
FYI: There will be fill added on top of these lines, and the irrigation lines will be above this system. The water for that will be supplied by the rainwater collection/gray water system.

These are our Geothermal well loops. It appears to be two pieces of pipe in each drilled well.
It is actually a loop, or one continuous piece that folds back along itself and is sunken into the drilled well.

The wells are drilled approximately 10 feet apart . Each well is 400+ feet deep and we will have around 250 of them under the baseball field.
At last count we were at about 114 completed and still drilling.

Each of these wells for a subterranean cavity and the looped piping will be filled with water which will be circulated back into our school. There is no water collected from these wells, they are just drilled holes. The water in the loops is a closed system which recirculates the liquid contained within them.
The workers below are welding the 12 inch tie-in or carry pipe that will deliver that geothermal warmed water back to our school.
Each of the loops out of the wells tie into these two main lines at the edge of the baseball field and cross under our driveway, one line in, one line back out.

As shown in the photo below, these lines then enter our school and tie into our HVAC system with water supplied at a constant temperate level.

Thus saving some of the energy it takes to heat and adding to the sustainability and green features of our new school. This is one of the LEED components we have incorporated to achieve LEEDS certification.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Working Together ~ the Webcam project

A little history on one of the successful sidebar stories of our new school project is the Webcam we now have up and running on our campus. (See the link in the sidebar to the right of this post to access the webcam view.)

The idea to put a webcam on the site so anyone at anytime could check in on the progress of our construction began in February of 2008. (The same month this blog was begun and our project went out to bid).

This initiative originated within the Core team discussions. After arranging funding from various sources, researching the best design solution and equipment, and finding the knowledgeable experts in the field to help us this collaboration has come together.

With the expert assistance provided by Brian W. Raichle, of ASU's Appropriate Technology program and his students the equipment was assembled and hand installed on site.

In this photo the ASU students are bringing the photovoltaic panels onto the site.
James Story from the Watauga County Schools maintenance staff assisted us in the lift bucket. His practical, problem solving approach to the mechanical and electrical installation was tremendously helpful.
Here James is attaching the framing support for the solar panels.
ASU students and teacher discuss the installation process.

Our webcam is solar powered and sustainable. It has three major mechanical components: The photovoltaic panels
and the batteries
and the camera.

Shown in the photo above (with James Storie in the bucket) are the other two key players in the solution to the many issues of installation and operation we encountered. Brian Raichle and Shannon Carroll.

Brian Raichle of ASU, who with his physics background, his understanding of photovoltaic systems, and "stick with it" attitude provided the working knowledge of the equipment.

Brian "gets" appropriate technology and sustainable future systems.

The dedication of Shannon Carroll of WHS Technology who understands networking and wireless technology, who did the research and found the hardware, then studied and applied the software necessary to make this work was decidedly the MVP on this team.
Here Shannon contemplates one of the recurring issues we had with solving the wireless communication between our camera and the on site technology that allows you the viewer to visit our campus via the internet in your own home.

We also wish to thank our architectural firm, sfla, for their partial donation toward the purchase of our camera.

Mike Kesterson of Barnhill/Vannoy is providing the internet connection that makes the live feed accessible via the Internet. Keith Dillon has helped get the antenna installed and set up on the home base. Thanks!

To me this has been simply an amazing technology, process, and value that demonstrates the "future thinking" and 21st Century Skills that we will carry forward into our new high school.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

September 29 Aerial views

These are the newest aerial photos of our campus.
Follow the link below to go to an aerial photo by Hugh Morton
of the old "New WHS".
click here to view

These photos below were taken on September 29. (Readers may recall I anticipated the main building would be under roof by the end of September).

The photo above is approaching from the east By zooming in you can clearly see the final design of our main building.
From the opposite direction flying in from the west.
This it nearly directly overhead and clearly shows the variety of roofing elements. You might be able to discern the four different layers on the middle wing, area 2. You can also see some of the masonry work and the open stair well at the end of area 3, which is the short classroom wing on the left.
This view is approaching from the north. Our entrance driveway is at the bottom of the picture and ties into old 421. The baseball field is directly to the left of the driveway and the softball field to the left of that. The pattern or rows of gray and black on the baseball field are the geothermal wells that are being drilled. We are approximately half finished with the well drilling.

Watauga High School SkySite Aerial Photography - Charlie Sarratt

Sunday, October 5, 2008

First Team on the Field gets to Play

An observant reader from the last post (October 2) noticed that out one of the windows it appeared there were players on the stadium field and wondered if we were already practicing on the new field! ;-)
Yes indeed, there was a group playing on the field. These players are construction workers. I believe this was the plumbing crew and the masonry crew. This was taken after hours at the end of the day after a full day on the job.
Our construction manager, Mike Kesterson, explained that on a project this size with hundreds of workers the construction crews actually become a small community. He was asked if the crews could play ball on the field at the end of the day. On one evening a week they get together and enjoy the competition and exercise on our field.
As Mike said, it is important to provide opportunity for all of the construction community to "own" their product. When the workers feel respected and encouraged to work together as a team a sense of pride in the work and a sense of ownership in the product is created. This diverse and complex organization of individuals have come together to create our school.

It is for their future as well as ours that we build our new school and campus.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Rooms with a View

Here are two rooms with great views. This first room is on the south side of area 1. The room is on the third floor. It will over look the stadium.

The auxiliary field is just below the edge of the flat graded stadium field at the bottom of this photo and the Greenway trail is beyond and below that field.
The next room which is shown below is on the same floor on the other side of the hall on the north side of that wing. Before you scroll down, try to anticipate the view you have. Above looking south, below turns and looks north. Can you guess?
Lets walk over to the window and take a closer look.
Yep, that is Howard's Knob and Rich Mountain behind that. Can you tell what the building is in the very center of the picture?
How about now?

Yep, that is Hardin Park school and play ground with Boone Methodist Church visible behind the school.

This is the view from a third floor window and the elevation is about 35 feet. It's pretty amazing to look across the valley and see the elementary school that will send us our students in a few years. Children who are sitting in those classrooms today will be sitting in this classroom in just a couple of years.

Most of them will never know the Old "New" High school!

click here to visit

An Early Peek into a Classroom

Our rooms are beginning to be framed in. All the studs are steel.
They are about the size of a standard 2 X 4, but all steel with lock plate and screwed supports. This is a very sturdy construction method and will not rot, warp, or dry out like wood.
Fire alarm feeds are in place and sprinkler lines are being pulled to the rooms.
HVAC ducts are in place and the system design is revealed in area 3.
All line feeds are single wire and flow through conduits.
The artistry of this section of conduit bends is only out weighed by the difficulty of creating this precision section. Amazing.