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Alcoa hires architect for intermediate school expansion

Alcoa’s Public Building Authority gave the thumbs up Thursday to move ahead with plans to expand and renovate Alcoa Intermediate School, a project that has been under design for almost a year.

Specifically the Public Building Authority unanimously approved an architectural and engineering contract with The Lewis Group for a phased design of planned Alcoa Intermediate improvements and authorized LawlerWood LLC, which is managing the project, to seek proposals from general contractors and select one.

“The general contractor will assist the architect in constructability, phasing, site security design and cost estimating,” according to the Public Building Authority meeting agenda Thursday.

The intermediate school, which opened as Alcoa Middle in 2002 but now serves third-, fourth- and fifth-graders, started showing structural problems in 2015, according to previous stories in The Daily Times.

The Alcoa Board of Education voted in October 2017 to delay repairs and instead combine them with expanding the school, which Director of Schools Brian Bell said Thursday is in “a crisis of overcrowding.”

“For years, we averaged 100 students a grade (level),” Bell told the Public Building Authority. “As of this morning, we have 171 fourth-graders. Their lunchroom only seats 140 at a time. We had to go get more tables today.”

While there is capacity at Alcoa’s other three schools — elementary, middle and high — Bell called the intermediate school “a cork in our system.” As built, Alcoa Intermediate has a capacity of 445 students; in October 2017, the school was two students away from that.

“It’s that one school that is causing us heartache,” Bell said.

Public Building Authority member Dick Ray asked whether Alcoa City Schools had raised fees to cut down on the number of tuition students. Bell told him tuition had increased from $700 to $1,000 and that only four new tuition students entered the system as kindergarteners this year, all of whom are children of employees.

“We started this project over a year ago knowing this was coming,” Bell said, noting Alcoa City Schools grew by about 90 resident students in one year.

Meanwhile, Alcoa City Manager Mark Johnson noted that the intermediate school had problems from the get-go.

“On the day it opened, it was undersized,” he said of the school’s existing classrooms. “It was not designed properly.”

Plans explained

Douglas Shover with The Lewis Group showed the Public Building Authority plans that would add 88,460 square feet to Alcoa Intermediate and renovate 36,000 square feet.

With an expansion to 27 core classrooms, the school’s capacity would rise to 630 students — up from 445 today.

The plan would add a gym, cafeteria with a stage so that it could double as an auditorium, new administration area, new media center and a new two-story wing of classrooms while renovating existing spaces to make better use of them.

Shover said architects looked to teachers to tell them “all the pieces or parts they need for that school to function the way you want it to function.”

For example, while architects plan to make two larger classrooms out of three existing classrooms by removing the walls between them, some existing classrooms would remain the smaller size for uses such as special education, occupational and physical therapy, and intervention.

A commons area would tie the new additions together with the existing school, Shover said.

Bassel honored

The Public Building Authority also saw elevations Thursday of what the new entrance to the school could look like.

“We want to put a new face on the building based on access to the site,” Shover explained.

Shover noted the elevations “mimic” the front of the old Bassel School, which was completed in 1921-22 and demolished in 2001, according to previous stories in The Daily Times.

“We want to pay homage and tribute to the old Bassel School,” Bell said, noting the cupola, arched windows and pilasters on the front hearken to Bassel’s architecture.

“We want (Alcoa Intermediate) to have a sense of arrival,” Shover added, noting having a new front would aid security in that visitors would not have to “drive all over campus” looking for the entrance.

Phasing discussed

The entire project was estimated to cost $24 million last year, but Barry Brooke, with LawlerWood, told the Public Building Authority that the city does not have $24 million right now.

Instead the city plans to issue bonds for half that next spring, Johnson said. The Alcoa Board of Commissioners approved a resolution July 10 that enables the city to reimburse itself up to $12 million for expenses incurred on the Alcoa Intermediate School project before the city issues the bonds.

“It will require a tax increase of some sort, but the impact on a typical resident won’t be too much,” Johnson said Thursday, explaining Alcoa is “caught in the middle” between the redevelopment of the former ALCOA Inc. West Plant being underway and starting to pay off with increased sales tax revenue. “We want to phase this thing so we won’t have to hit the tax rate all at once.”

The phasing has not been determined, though Brooke said he would suggest trying to do the cafeteria in the first phase.

“The gym is not as critical as feeding kids,” he said.

Meanwhile, Shover said putting “a new face on the school could get people excited” about the project and also would free up space in the existing school by moving the administrative suite and media center into a new part of the building.

“We want to get as many core items as we can in the first phase,” Brooke said, noting it may make sense to add the new wing of classrooms in the second phase.

Ray worried about construction being disruptive to teachers and students, but Brooke said plans were designed “to minimally touch the existing building” while school is in session.

Shover added that contractors typically meet with school personnel each week to discuss whether there are “atypical” things scheduled, such as standardized testing, that need to be taken into consideration during construction.

Meanwhile, Bell said that Alcoa’s summer break, which is 7 1/2 weeks, could be extended to up to 9 weeks, as it was when Alcoa High School was under construction.

“It will be disruptive,” he said. “The task is to try to minimize it as much as possible.”


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TBI Hosts Groundbreaking for New Jackson Laboratory & Regional Headquarters

Joined by Governor Bill Haslam and a variety of other state and local leaders, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation broke ground today on a new laboratory and regional headquarters in Madison County.

The Special Agent De’Greaun ReShun Frazier TBI Crime Laboratory and Regional Headquarters will be built on a plot of land on Smith Lane, just south of the Jackson Regional Airport. When it opens in late 2020, the approximately 50,000-square-foot, approximately $20 million facility will replace the Memphis Crime Lab, allowing TBI to provide expanded and more efficient services to agencies across the 21 counties the TBI serves in West Tennessee.

TBI’s new facility will include designated space for eight forensic units, including Forensic Biology, Firearms, and Toxicology, along with office space for Special Agents, and designated meeting rooms for future training events.

“We’ve worked with an experienced architectural designer to make sure our new laboratory is as state-of-the-art as possible,” said Donna Nelson, Crime Lab Regional Supervisor. “Having a larger, more efficient workspace will improve workflow, helping our Forensic Scientists provide even better services for our law enforcement partners across West Tennessee.”

The facility will be named to honor TBI Agent De’Greaun Frazier, who died in the line of duty during an undercover TBI drug operation in Jackson in August 2016. Frazier, 35, was a 15-year law enforcement veteran and is survived by his wife, Shannon, and their two children, Kamaryn and Kendrix.

“It’s a fitting tribute to our fallen Agent, who had a lasting impact on the Jackson community,” said TBI Director David Rausch. “We’re thankful to our partners at the State of Tennessee for providing the resources to make this project a reality. Our goal, as an agency, is always to improve, and that includes having the right resources – in the right places – to provide the services citizens expect from the TBI.”


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East Tennessee High School Name TSBA School of the Year

Jefferson County High School (JCHS), a school like many in our region that face severe overcrowding and the effects of rapidly aging buildings, received the 2016 Tennessee School Board Association (TSBA) School of the Year Award for Excellence in Design for Renovations and Additions. TSBA confers this award to school boards and architectural firms for distinction in the design of primary and secondary school facilities.

Since its original construction in 1973, Jefferson County High School had gone with no significant facility upgrades but continued to experience 42 years of physical wear and tear, deterioration of building systems, shifts in curriculum, and changes to code-required building standards. Increased pressure from decades of enrollment increases forced JCHS to operate a de facto freshman academy out of 13 portable classrooms on the school grounds. JCHS was in many ways outdated and below current standards.

To help solve these problems, Jefferson County Schools, under the direction of Dr. Charles Edmonds, turned to Knoxville firm Lewis Group Architects (LGA).

“In our work we see patterns happening in public education facilities. School systems trying to fit more students in existing facilities which are already deteriorating. But since administrators often don’t have enough funds to address all their problems simultaneously, we have to help them prioritize problems and find one-time, long-term solutions instead of stop gap measures,” said Doug Shover, LGA’s Education Studio Director.

LGA’s Education Studio completed assessments of the existing facility and made recommendations about how to best use financial and architectural resources to serve teachers and students in the immediate and long-term future.

The challenges facing JCHS required a multifaceted solution. The first step was the design of a new freshman academy, named the Patriot Academy, which was constructed on a separate, nearby campus. This allowed the relocation of freshman students from crowded portables to a campus of their own. Reduced enrollment pressure on the existing high school afforded an opportunity to address urgent facility upgrades and provide new resources such as a long overdue home for the high school’s highly accomplished performing arts program – which was cut from original school construction in 1973 due to budget constraints.

The renovations - totaling 241,850 square feet - significantly enhanced the learning and working environment for students and staff by improving life-safety conditions, improving indoor air quality, providing better acoustical conditions, creating more instructional space by redistributing classrooms, and improving the use of the campus during school and after hours. The value of this work resonated with the award jury.

The additions - totaling 43,900 square feet - included a new administration area with increased security and access control, a new lobby and expansion of the commons area, a small addition for the physical education and ROTC departments, and a substantial performing & visual arts addition. The Performing and Visual Arts Center, which is a focal point for community life, includes 635 seat auditorium, band room, chorus room, rehearsal spaces, three art classrooms, a digital arts lab, and a drama classroom.

Completed in 2016, the 36 month construction process was successfully phased to avoid any interruptions to the day-to-day operations of the school.

Jefferson County Schools and Lewis Group Architects were also conferred a School of the Year Award for Patriot Academy in 2014. This year’s award makes the 12th TSBA School of the Year Award for LGA who received the Award in New Construction in 2015 for Alcoa High School. 


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(Bark)ing Day

Lewis Group Architects celebrates Park(ing) Day! Park(ing) Day is an annual worldwide event where artists, designers, and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks. Our theme this year was to turn a metered space into a dog park! So, LGA teamed up with Young Williams Animal Shelter to provide a dog park in the middle of Market Square for the day. Our talented designers transformed our space into a tennis ball themed park for dogs to help promote the YWAS mission. LGA used recycable carpet tiles and tennis balls that will be donated to Knox County Schools to be used for classroom chairs. This event was a huge success and we would like to thank all those that helped donate time and materials.


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Alcoa High Wins Two TSBA Awards

Alcoa High School has been named the state’s best designed new school.

During Monday’s awards luncheon at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, Alcoa High collected two awards from the Tennessee School Boards Association. It received 2015 School of the Year for Excellence in Architectural Design for the high school division, in addition to the People’s Choice Award.

The awards program honors new school construction in three categories — elementary, middle and high — and remodeling/renovation. Architectural entries are judged on several criteria, including cost efficiency, aesthetics, space relationships, flexibility, community use, safety, site development and adaptation to site and size. TSBA doesn’t make on-site visits, and awards are based solely on material provided to the judge.

TSBA members choose the People’s Choice Award, which is similar to the program’s best in show. It is the only design award selected by members.

“Both awards validate the dedication and hard work of our project team,” said Alcoa Director of Schools Brian Bell. “We set out to build the best school in Tennessee. We also wanted it to be functional, because it is our belief that this building will be there for a long time. They accomplished what we set out to do.”

“We’re excited and honored to receive this recognition,” said Doug Shover, Lewis Group Architects’ vice president of primary and secondary education. “However, we’re always pleased when a facility meets the needs of our clients.”

Alcoa High is the third Blount County school and fourth local school to be recognized in the program’s 13-year history. In 2014, Greenback School collected first place in the high school division. In 2012, Coulter Grove Intermediate obtained third place in the elementary division. In 2011, Prospect Elementary received second place in the same division.

Collaboration Hailed

“The new Alcoa High was a great project to work on due to the direction of our school board and the collaboration between all stakeholders,” Bell said. “We got the three best firms in East Tennessee — the Lewis Group Architects, Merit Construction and Lawler-Wood — to assemble our ideas and fully implement them. Everybody put forth a considerable amount of effort and it shows in the finished product.”

The new Alcoa High’s design was inspired by the architecture of former ALCOA Inc. buildings and Alcoa schools. The project team reviewed the former West Plant headquarters and Bassel, Charles M. Hall and Springbrook schools.

Alcoa High’s exterior carriage lights are inspired by area architecture and finishes. The clam-shape poles are inspired by Maryville College’s light poles, and the carriage lanterns are close matches to the original Alcoa High School’s lights.

The 180,000-square-foot facility’s cross-hatching is also reminiscent of the original building. It pays tribute to the district’s namesake with a 40-foot tall, 20-ton aluminum dome on the structure’s rotunda.

In addition to the dome, a dozen ALCOA Tennessee Operations employees helped manufacture an 1,100-pound aluminum medallion that is located in Myrtle Coker Wilkinson Student Commons. Crews also installed a diagram of the aluminum atom in the commons area’s floor.

More than 800 people worked directly on the 25-month construction project. Lawler-Wood served as Alcoa City Schools’ project representative.

The Lewis Group Architects and Merit Construction served as architect and general contractor, respectively. Subcontractors included Al Blankenship Enterprises, Blount Excavating, Cherokee Millwright, C2RL, DFA Solutions, Dixie Roofing, Gallagher & Associates, GEOServices, Glenn E. Mitchell & Co., Massey Electric Co., Quality Machine and Welding Co., Shoffner Kalthoff Mechanical Electrical Service, Southern Glass and WASCO Inc.

Third Award

In the past six months, Alcoa High has received three state-level awards. It even started collecting awards before it opened in July.

In May, Alcoa High won the Land Use category in the 2015 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards (GESAs) program. It was recognized with 10 other winners at an awards ceremony held June 23 in Nashville.

The energy-efficient building is located on the former ALCOA West Plant site, a 375-acre property bounded by Hall Road, Alcoa Highway, Hunt Road, Mills Street, and Faraday Street.

Alcoa City Schools obtained a a brownfield voluntary agreement for the site, which provides liability protection to potential purchasers of contaminated property and ensures that the future use of the property will not pose a risk to the public.

“In 2008, ALCOA began to look for firms to redevelop the site,” according to a media release issued for the GESAs program. “Data was compiled from environmental studies and reports to form a mixed-use development plan. (The) West Plant, (which) occupied the site for 69 years, had byproducts from their manufacturing processes that were disposed of in several on-site landfills.”

Crews had to address a landfill area that included various contaminants, the release said. They also had to remediate a 2.5-acre storm water management area, which had once contained settling ponds, to make green space for the school campus.

“We took a dead, unused piece of land and transformed it into a vibrant property,” Bell said.


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State OKs Design for UT Audiology Building

NASHVILLE — After years of delay, a new University of Tennessee audiology and speech pathology building should begin rising out of the ground at the UT Medical Center complex off Alcoa Highway in Knoxville by next summer.

To read more, please follow the link provided by Knoxville News Sentinel


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Jefferson County Creates Sustainable Change Across Their Organization

In order to change the way that the world sees aging, it is important to not just implement The Green House model, but also to sustain it.  Through experience and research, we have found that this occurs most successfully when culture change exists throughout the organization, not just within The Green House homes.

Jefferson County Nursing home in Tennessee opened their three Green House homes in 2010, and have experienced successful outcomes and stories of transformation.  As they look to the future, they have decided to partner again with The Green House Project on a process called, The Legacy Blueprint.  This program is offered to Green House organizations when they also have a legacy home to promote alignment of the core values and essential practices of The Green House model.  All elders, regardless of where they live, deserve a small, flexible and warm environment with opportunities for choice, and a sense of purpose.

Roger Mynatt, Executive Director of Jefferson County Nursing Home, shares, “We chose work with The Green House Project on the Legacy Blueprint because it will create the perfect bridge between the Legacy Building and our Green House homes.  We are taking the best of our mission and complimenting it with the Green House Core Values to create staff empowerment and person-directed care.”

To learn more about The Green House implementation process, click here to download Homes for Success


New Alcoa High School Welcomes Students

Almost 2,000 students head back to class to at Alcoa City Schools, which includes the opening of the new Alcoa High School.

The $33 million building is new this school year, and has been in the works for three years.

The 180,000 square foot building can hold up to 1,000 students, whereas the old high school could hold about 600.

To read more, follow the link provided by WBIR


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Alcoa High School Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Over 10 years ago, LGA called on Alcoa City Schools with the hopes of developing a long lasting relationship. With a strong dedication from our Business Development Leader, we continued to build on that relationship and as of yesterday morning, Alcoa City Schools celebrated their ribbon cutting for the brand new Alcoa High School. LGA is extremely proud to be the architect of record for such an unbelievably dedicated school system. Check out the article from The Daily Times


The New Alcoa High School

Nearly 600 Alcoa High School students’ timing couldn’t be better, as they’ll be the first group to attend grades 9-12 in a new $33.5 million building when school starts July 30.

Follow the link provided by the Knoxville New Sentinel for a video.


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