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This image of the new high school shows the commons area. Students would use the space to eat lunch and gather. Architects are focusing on incorporating natural elements in the building design - like wood and earth-tone colors. (Image by Cuningham Group)

The new school: A glimpse inside the design

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news Alexandria, 56308
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Natural elements that promote flexible learning environments are being incorporated into the design of Alexandria's new high school.

During a special school board meeting Tuesday, architect John Pfluger presented preliminary plans for the school's layout and said reflecting the lakes area landscape will be prevalent throughout the school's design.

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"You're going to see lots of wood or wood veneer as we move forward," Pfluger said.

The following are highlights from the preliminary design presentation:

• The school's exterior will be primarily brick with metal panel accents and pre-cast concrete construction of large spaces like a gymnasium and theater.

"They're pretty simple materials," Pfluger said. "It will be a fairly simple palette of materials but it will be put together in an elegant way."

• Classrooms will be set in an academic wing - it will be three-stories of "learning communities." The rooms will likely include modular wall systems that integrate technology. Special education classrooms will be located on the first floor with windows oriented toward a courtyard space.

• The media center will be located in the heart of the school on the second floor. It will feature soft-seating, video production and digital art areas, computer research stations, study spaces, but not many books, Pfluger said.

• The theater will host 1,000 seats, which will include a balcony and box seats. Music-suite classrooms, storage, performance space and dressing rooms and a scene shop for dramatic performances are located near the theater.

• The commons area will be a large open space that incorporates a variety of dining and learning settings for students to gather. Food service will be adjacent to the commons area. This space can also be used as a small-scale stage for performances or overflow seating from the theater, if necessary.

During the board's May 21 meeting, they will be asked to approve the design of the building.

The project's estimated cost, compared to its budget, will also be revealed during that meeting.

The total project cost was originally projected to be $70.5 million. A $65 million building bond referendum was approved by 57 percent of voters last November. An additional $4 million that was raised through a private capital campaign and the $2 million sale of the Jefferson High School property will also be applied to the total project cost.

The initial bid package for things like paving, site concrete, irrigation and fencing has been sent out for contractors to bid on. The board will review bids during a special meeting on Thursday, May 31 at 5:30 p.m. in the school district conference room at Woodland Elementary School.

Follow #AlexMN @EchoPress Reporter and Osakis Review Managing Editor Amy Chaffins on Twitter at @TheOsakisReview.

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Amy Chaffins
Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.
(320) 763-3133
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