M-CHS design plans unveiled
Energy-efficient building may save 30% in electrical costs
An ancient room block and pit structure will soon have a new world two-story and energy-efficient neighbor.
Earlier this year, an archeological consultant surveyed a 35-acre site that will house the new Montezuma-Cortez High School. Surveyors discovered what is believed to be a set of room blocks and a pit structure from the Pueblo II era, AD 900 to 1150. The ancient ruins are located on the northeast corner of the proposed school site.
“I’m hoping we can use the ruins as an outdoor historical lab space,” said Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 school superintendent Alex Carter.
Carter told a small group of residents in attendance at a school board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 8, that the ancient remnants of previous civilizations have the potential to serve as a unique, vital teaching tool for students. No decisions have been made how the space could ultimately be utilized as an educational resource, but it is promising, Carter said.
“This presents a great opportunity for the school district,” he added.
Researchers believe more than 10,000 sites were established across the Four Corners region during the 150-year Pueblo II era. Notable Pueblo II sites in the immediate area include Canyons of the Ancients, Mesa Verde and Hovenweep.
The ancient site at the new school location near Sligo and Seventh streets will be protected and sheltered during construction of the new 152,500-square-foot school building, according to officials from Albuquerque-based architectural firm Dekker/Perich/Sabatini. The firm recently completed design plans of the new school, and architects were on hand Tuesday to present their findings to the public.
“We’re at the end of our design development stage,” said company official Julie Walleisa. “The floor plan is set.”
The two-story structure is slated to meet Gold LEED Certification: a third party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2000, the certification awards projects points based on such things as water efficiency, indoor environmental quality along with materials and resources, to name a few. The second highest award, Gold LEED Certification is one of four possible distinctions.
“We are projecting to save about 30 percent in electrical costs in the new building,” Carter said. “Those savings will go directly back into the classroom.”
The new schoolhouse is required to meet Gold LEED certification as stipulated by the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant, which is financing 60 percent of the new high school. Funded by the Colorado Department of Education, nearly $1 billion has been allocated for new school construction through BEST grants.
To meet environmental requirements, the new high school will include a geothermal mechanical system, employ natural lighting and use modern plumbing fixtures to reduce indoor water consumption by 40 percent.
“We are on track to meet Gold LEED Certification,” said Walleisa
Concerns raised by the public Tuesday centered mainly on safety, including adequate accommodations for the disabled, fire protection and school surveillance.
“Environmental design is our best security,” said Carter.
In regard to accessing the new school, Carter explained that architects designed the school to have a single main entrance. All parents, teachers, students and visitors must pass through a 75-yard courtyard to enter the new building through a system of controlled doorways.
“There are lots of windows overlooking the courtyard, so we will be able to see anyone who tries to enter the school,” Carter added.
The current Montezuma-Cortez High School serves approximately 650 students. The new larger school is designed to accommodate 725 students, so there is room for growth, Carter said.
Groundbreaking at the site is expected in December, and the new school is projected to open in fall 2015. Total construction costs are projected at $33.6 million.
To learn more about the entire design process of the new Montezuma-Cortez High School, visit http://www.dpsdesign.org/mchs.