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Expanding Opportunities for Growth

by: Jack Quigley
The new and improved Zionsville High School will bring students together in a safer and more collaborative environment.

Fanning Howey, The Skillman Corporation, TLF Engineers, and others are working with Zionsville High School on a substantial renovation project that will add 35 new classrooms, a grand dining common, an academic and research common, and a new administration suite to the growing high school.

Responding to the School’s Needs
Demographic studies conducted by Zionsville High School in recent years are predicting the school’s student population to grow at a rate of 200 pupils per year for the next decade.

“The capacity of the high school was a known issue for them to address,” said Chuck Tyler, AIA, Project Executive and Principal at Fanning Howey.

Zionsville’s existing high school facility also suffered from organizational challenges as the main entrance was located in the same area as the bus lot.

“Anyone coming to conduct other business at the school couldn’t get into that lot and had to seek another place to park before figuring out how to return to the main entrance,” Tyler said. “So, we actually flipped the main entry to the south side of the building, keeping the buses on the north side, which solves a number of traffic circulation conflicts and gives them a nice, new main entrance that is scaled appropriately for the size of the campus.”

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Furthermore, Tyler said the existing facility’s lack of cafeteria space and the school’s growing population forced ZHS to designate three separate periods for students to eat lunch. The large and central grand dining commons will consolidate the school’s food service into one area, helping the school cut down on the number of serving periods needed for students, and allowing students and teachers to clean up their daily schedules.

Fanning Howey used student input to shape much of their grand commons design.

Tyler said, “In the design of the grand commons, we purposely created a lot of different sizes and shapes of spaces and ceiling heights, and there will be a variety of different seating options to directly respond to that desire expressed by the students.”

Expanding Opportunities for Growth
Added elements from the ZHS renovation project like the dining commons and the relocated main entryway respond directly to needs expressed by ZHS stakeholders.

“But Fanning Howey always tries to leverage our new additions to do as many things as they possibly can and to be as flexible as possible,” Tyler said. “So, the grand dining commons location also connects the freshman center to the performing arts center, allowing it to serve pre-function and post-function activities for performing arts. It’s immediately adjacent to the student activity center, so it can support those activities as well, and it’s just down the hallway from the main gym, so now it supports a lot of athletic functions.”

The grand dining commons introduces five different points of connectivity to the building, allowing students to easily flow in and out of the space while creating a vibrant downtown area at the heart of the school.

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Thirty five new classrooms – modernized for Zionsville’s evolving curriculum and its growing student population – will also be added to the school as part of this project. Among the added classrooms will be a drama communications lab equipped with theatrical lighting and a theatrical sound system, two large flex classrooms designed to accommodate whatever the school needs from the spaces, and enhanced natural lighting throughout classrooms and common spaces.

“All the new common spaces have significant glass or clerestories to bring natural light in,” Tyler said. “So even if a student spends mornings in classroom spaces without a lot of light exposure, they have opportunities during the course of the day to be in spaces that have a significant amount of natural light and views.”

Complementing the Existing Structure
New construction adds an element of verticality to the building, Tyler said, with the added main entry, grand commons, and academic commons all standing at one and a half stories.

“On a building that is fairly low and long, the new construction provides some vertical highlights as you go from one side to the other,” Tyler said.

Existing brick pallets on the building’s exterior are continued in the new construction, but Tyler said Fanning Howey was careful not to replicate detail, instead adding spaces that look fresh while remaining compatible with the school’s current aesthetic.

Inside the building, Fanning Howey utilizes the nature of the existing building by adapting formerly exterior brick walls into exposed interior walls.

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Additional upgrades include substantial restroom renovations to bring all facilities up to code and current ADA requirements, athletic improvements such as resurfacing the track and adding new turf to the football field, and a new sound system for the gymnasium and performing arts center.

“Projects like this, where you’re dealing with an existing building, really push your creativity because of the constraints,” Tyler said. “So as designers, you look for opportunities to achieve things that people didn’t think were possible. I think once this project is complete and people are walking through it, they’ll feel like ‘I can’t imagine that this is the same high school.’”

Project Details
  • Grade Levels: 9-12
  • Construction Cost: $33,848,893
  • Square Footage: 99,484 new square feet, 31,179 remodeled square feet
  • Estimated Completion: May 2023
  • Architecture, Interiors, Engineering: Fanning Howey
  • Civil/Structural Engineering: TLF
  • Construction Manager: The Skillman Corporation
  • Acoustics/Auditorium Sound: IMEG
  • Technology: KBSO
  • Food Service: Vorndran
  • Theatrical Lighting: Bill Lord

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