Page N1.2 . 30 August 2000                     
ArchitectureWeek - News Department
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    New Concepts Create Niagara Falls High School


    Each house has a theme specialist, a dean of students, and a principal. A universal design and plan for instructional spaces allows for team teaching or traditional departmental teaching.

    At the center of the complex is a technology core. Its 2.5-story atrium houses the Center for Information with a library and an open, daylit research area. The core features a variety of ways to disseminate or obtain information, including computers, televisions, and printed materials. It provides both local-area and wide-area networks, as well as power and data for every instructional space.

    Another significant innovation for this public high school is the laptop computer every student will be issued on opening day. These computers will support Internet access both at school and at home.

    Surrounding the technology core are four support cores, all of which are open to the public when not in use by the students:

    The performance core includes a 1,700-square-foot (160-square-meter) theater, a black box theater/television studio, and music classrooms.

    The physical education core provides a 2,200-seat main gymnasium, an auxiliary gym, an Olympic-sized swimming pool with diving facilities, a weight training and fitness room, locker rooms, and coaches' offices.

    The art core, in partnership with the regional Arts in Education Council, will be open year-round for use by the entire community. It includes a public art gallery, classrooms designed as studios, photo studios, and two large, long-distance learning centers, each seating 125 people.

    The cafeteria is separated into four quadrants surrounding a central kitchen, and includes two a-la-carte serving lines and two deli-style preparation areas.

    The project began in the mid-1990s in response to the community's shrinking tax base and its inability to fund repairs to aging buildings. In May 1997, after an 18-month evaluation and numerous public forums, the City of Niagara Falls' Board of Education adopted the idea to build a new school.

    However, to build it without a tax levy, the school district needed approval to enter into a unique agreement with a private developer to manage the project. Special state legislation allowed the school district to privatize the project.

    Honeywell was selected as program manager and selected J.P. Morgan to find private investors to raise the money to finance school construction.

    In addition to managing the overall program, Honeywell installed the latest in state-of-the-art, energy-efficient temperature, lighting, security, and fire alarm technology at the school. For example, the school is equipped with 62 cameras that will monitor classrooms, hallways, and parking areas to ensure increased safety for the students and community.

    The project not only was completed without an increase in the local tax levy, but it allows the school district to consolidate and close its two former high schools, saving operating costs.

    Eventually, the buildings will be leased or sold, putting untaxed property back on the tax rolls. "It is a revolution in school financing, partnership, programming, leadership, and technology," said School Superintendent Carmen Granto.

    "This school project, and all its surrounding amenities, is a perfect example of what we can achieve in this community when working together toward a common goal," Granto said. "We have done what is best for kids and, in the process, produced a jewel for the betterment of the entire community."

    Project Credits

    Architect: The Hillier Group, Jorge Luaces, AIA, K-12 Studio Principal
    Engineer: Hillier Engineering and Technologies General Contractor: Louis P. Ciminelli Building Co.
    Project Manager: The Honeywell Corporation


    ArchWeek Photo

    From the hallway, one can see into the central technology core with library, daylit research area, and networking infrastructure.
    Photo: The Hillier Group

    ArchWeek Photo

    A first floor hallway of the Niagara Falls High School.
    Photo: The Hillier Group

    ArchWeek Photo

    The performance core of the high school includes a theater, television studio, and music classrooms.
    Photo: The Hillier Group

    ArchWeek Photo

    Hallway and concession area for the performing arts center.
    Photo: The Hillier Group

    ArchWeek Photo

    Entrance leading to the performing arts center.
    Photo: The Hillier Group


    Click on thumbnail images
    to view full-size pictures.

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