Fairport Harbor School Board picks architect to design new school – News-Herald

An architect has been selected to design Fairport Harbor School District’s new pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade school.

The School Board recently awarded the contract for the project to ThenDesign Architecture of Willoughby. The board voted unanimously in favor of ThenDesign Architecture — often referred to as TDA — to provide professional design services for the new school, which will be occupied by all of the district’s students.

That future construction project became a reality after district voters approved a bond issue in the Nov. 2 General Election.

TDA was one of four firms named by the board as finalists for the project from a larger pool of architects. Fairport Harbor School District placed an advertisement in December requesting statements of qualifications from companies that were interested in designing the new school.

Joining TDA in the group of finalists were Architectural Vision Group, Lesko Architecture and TECHNE. Representatives from each of those firms touted their expertise during appearances before the board at separate meetings earlier this year.

School Board President Tom Fazekas said he and his fellow members were very impressed after hearing TDA make its case to serve as project architect.

“But what really sealed the deal for us is we did take the time to visit two other districts in the area that TDA has recent either done work for or is currently working with,” Fazekas said.

Board members visited the new Richmond Heights Upper School building, which opened last year. The board also spoke with leaders in the Wickliffe School District about the new preschool through 12th-grade campus which is anticipated to open at the start of the 2023-24 academic year.

“Both school districts were both very effusive with praise for what ThenDesign had done for them,” Fazekas said.

Fairport Harbor Schools leaders also dealt directly with TDA when the firm created preliminary design plans for the new school, during the phase of the project preceding placement of a bond issue on the November ballot.

“What’s nice about that is there really is no learning curve for (TDA),” Fazekas said. “They know what our limitations are, they know what our strengths are, they know square footage, they know what they have to work with. That’s going to be a benefit.”

Passage of a 3.9-mill, $5 million bond issue in the Nov. 2 General Election guaranteed that the district will secure an additional $38.5 million from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to co-fund a project estimated at about $43.5 million.

To view the financial contributions in another way, revenue from the bond issue will cover 7 percent of the project cost, while state dollars secured through the OFCC will pay for 93 percent of the endeavor.

The new school for the district’s nearly 700 students will be built on green space and a parking area adjacent to the current Harding Middle and High School at 329 Vine St.

Students at Harding will continue learning in their current building while the new school is being constructed.

Once the new school is completed, students from McKinley Elementary would join the middle- and high-schoolers to be educated in the same building. Both the Harding and McKinley buildings then will be demolished.

McKinley, located at 602 Plum St., and Harding both were constructed more than 100 years ago.

At this point, the district is waiting for confirmation on when the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission will release state funding to build the new school. In the meantime, though, the district still can launch the construction project with local funding that is being generated by the bond issue.

Representatives of TDA will attend the next regular board meeting at 6 pm April 26 to discuss what to expect as design work on the new school commences.

“I think they’re going to kind of talk us through the next steps,” Fazekas said.

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