Students of Jefferson and Dickinson elementary schools, Grand Rapids Public Schools staff and administrators, district leaders and community members broke ground on the new Dickinson Elementary School May 16. Participating in the ceremony were GRPS administration and staff, BETA Design Inc., Triangle Associates Inc., and Mayor George Heartwell.
The new academic building, to be constructed on the site of the existing 1920’s Dickinson Elementary, will be a “high performance” elementary school for the students of both Jefferson and Dickinson elementary schools. It will raise three stories and have approximately 58,000 square feet of space, nearly double the space of the current Dickinson Elementary.
Designed by BETA Design, the new school building was developed using a community-focused approach. Multiple planning sessions were held to gain community input and determine a list of priorities for the new facility. It will feature 22 classrooms, including six group emphasis rooms, a cafeteria, gymnasium, media center, art room and a music room with a stage. The building’s hallways were shaped to create four multipurpose areas where children will be encouraged to engage in “out of classroom” group learning.
“Ultimately, the goal for design was to create a school building that not only would meet the growing needs of students, teachers and staff, but also to create a building that will fit into the neighborhood and allow the history of the school to continue,” said Bret Kronlein, vice president of education for BETA Design.
Historical arches and keystone blocks from the existing elementary school will be removed and incorporated into the new facility. The existing arch at the entrance of Dickinson Elementary will also be utilized to welcome students and visitors upon entering the school grounds.
Triangle Associates, as the project’s construction manager, has been involved in the project since the beginning of the design phase. The $8,300,000 project will be completed in the summer of 2008 in time for the 2008-2009 school year. CQ