By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer
Atlantic News, Friday, March 18, 2005
[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]
[Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]
HAMPTON -- At the moment it's a maze of dark gray masonry, rising dimly in the shadows within its towering, two-story walls. In areas where roofing has not yet been installed, melting snow drips down intermittently onto the solid cement foundation below.
Pipes, ducts, cables and beams add depth and texture to the concrete canvas that's been put firmly into place. Temporary heating units blow winter's chill away from the elaborate task at hand, while transitory light fixtures keep it all illuminated.
Outside the job site on "milder" days, construction workers in gleaming white hard hats slog through the layer of soft mud and muck that conceals the pavement beneath. Reminders of winter's snowfall surround the structure, a portion of which has its final red brick exterior partially in place. This is definitely a work in progress.
Yet for all its apparent less-than-aesthetic qualities on exhibit thus far, the physical education facility currently under construction at Winnacunnet High School is a thing of beauty.
And once it's completed, the impressive structure - and the renovations planned for the existing school building - will be tangible evidence of a community's commitment to the education and the future of its students.
Touring the phys-ed facility with ProCon's Superintendent of Construction, Steve Nordaby, WHS Associate Principal Randy Zito is an enthusiastic observer. He points out different areas within the maze and explains what they will be when the building is finally complete: Boys and girls locker rooms; a weight room; the lobby; restrooms; an elevator shaft; a stairwell.
At one end of the facility there is a wide space with steel beams peaking overhead and a freshly-poured concrete floor below. This is the double-wide gymnasium, Zito says, which will eventually seat 1500 once the bleachers are installed. A wood floor will also be put into place, as will an indoor running track above it all. Sixteen skylights will provide plenty of natural light - representing a bright future indeed for WHS athletes.
The target date for fully accessing the phys-ed facility is May 20, says Zito. He notes that discussion is underway regarding possible partial use of the building for storage purposes (equipment will have to be moved over from the main building in order to begin the reconstruction project at that site). In either case, WHS will need to obtain a "permit to occupy" beforehand.
Continuing his tour of the facility, Zito approaches what he calls "the heart of the building" - the area housing the main electrical and heating systems. Cables and circuit boxes converge in the smaller of two rooms; the larger one contains the boilers, two of which have already been installed. A sprinkler system, plumbing and pumps will also find their origins in this room.
Stepping back out into the maze, Zito points down a long corridor which leads to what will eventually be a lobby, where students will enter for all-school assemblies (there will be enough room to seat them all at once) and where hundreds of spectators will be welcomed for athletic and other community events. He notes that there is room for 500 seats over the floor space alone, if an event in the warrants that particular arrangement in the facility's gymnasium.
.Just how does one get to it all? Once again standing outside at the busy construction site, Zito makes a motion toward the lobby end of the building. A walkway will eventually be installed, he says, leading from WHS's main building to the phys-ed facility. Whether or not it will be covered or fully enclosed is a decision that will be made further down the road.
And speaking of the road, changes with regard to issues such as student traffic and parking lots are also on the horizon - a promising, expansive horizon that is certainly shining bright for the future of Winnacunnet High School and those who are associated with it.
(Note: This is the first of a two-part article about the building project currently underway at Winnacunnet High School. Next week the Atlantic News will look at reconstruction plans for the existing school building.)