Dec. 12, 2008
Denfeld plan gets good review
By Sarah Horner
Architects planning the expansion and renovation
of Denfeld High School say they were able to achieve one of their
top goals in the design: maintaining the historic character of the
Preliminary designs for the new western high school
were revealed to the public at a community meeting Thursday night
at the school. Plans call for building a three-story addition off
the school and making changes to the site, including adding 60 parking
While some of the design concepts remain in flux,
John Scott, an architect with DSGW Architects, said the priority
of sensitively blending the new addition with the more than 80-year-old
building will remain constant.
“This building is a historic treasure, so
we want to make sure we maintain its historic architecture as we
do this,” Scott said. “We have heard a lot of input
from the community about maintaining the character of the school
while updating it to be a modern facility for learning.”
So far, Alanna Oswald, one of the community members
at the meeting, said the architects are doing just that.
“I was surprised that they were able to
make it as modern as they have in such an old building,” she
said. “It looks very nice.”
Oswald’s tone represented that of many of
the people at the meeting. Noticeably different than the tense and
sometimes hostile meeting that took place about the eastern high
school Wednesday night, about 20 people showed up Thursday and calmly
asked questions or made suggestions about the plans.
Topics of discussion ranged from finding the best
main entrance to the building to making sure school counselors were
housed in an appropriate spot.
Nancy Nilsen, a School Board member, said she
attributed the reaction of the western community to the scope of
changes being felt in that area of town.
“I think more people are concerned about
Ordean because of all the changes that go along with turning it
from a middle school into a high school. That’s not what we
are dealing with here,” Nilsen said.
Not everyone at the meeting was happy with the
plans. Denette Lynch, a neighbor of Denfeld, said she anticipates
parking to be a major issue. Unlike at the Ordean site, where architects
were able to increase parking by about 500 spots, land constraints
around Denfeld limited architects to expanding parking by only about
“I just don’t see how that is going
to work,” Lynch said. “We’re going to have 531
more kids in this building but only 63 more parking spots. Where
is everyone supposed to park?”
Denfeld will have about 280 parking spots, while
the eastern high school will have about 600.
Lynch said the district should have placed the
high school in a spot with more open land and made Denfeld the western
Anna Bolgrien, a sophomore at Denfeld also at
the meeting, said she is glad her school will remain a high school.
“I think it’s really exciting we get
to stay in this building,” she said. She added that she doesn’t
want architects to get too bogged down in the preservation of the
character of the original building. “I want the designs to
think about the students and how we go to class every day and what
makes sense, not so much about what looks pretty.”
Scott said architects would take all of the feedback
into consideration as they continue to tweak the schematic designs.
Final designs are expected to be approved sometime this winter,
with construction scheduled to begin this summer.