Valdosta Daily Times

September 26, 2012

Architect chosen for new city school

Kay Harris
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta Board of Education selected Altman and Barrett Monday to build a new Valdosta High School.

Three architectural firms presented prospective plans to the board on Sept. 17 — IPG, Altman and Barrett, and Ellis, Rickett & Assoc.

Altman and Barrett is already working for the school system, designing the new Pinevale Elementary School. The firm created a concise vision for the new VHS, including a new football field, a new aquatics center, and a design that would be flexible enough to last for 75 years, according to a previous story.

Valdosta City Schools Superintendent Dr. Bill Cason said Tuesday that the board made the decision, but he feels it’s the right one as Altman and Barrett would have been his choice.

“The board’s (unanimous) decision was based on the presentations made before the board last week, and they did a really good job of presenting how the new facility would be laid out on the site, among other things,” Cason said.

The new school will be built on land that the system is currently in the process of purchasing, close to the intersection of Inner Perimeter Road and Lakeland Highway.

“We are in the very preliminary phases right now, but I’m really proud it is in process. This reinforces the fact that we are moving forward and this new facility will house the many good instructional programs we have at the current high school.”

Cason added that the current VHS is more than 40 years old and was not designed for today’s student. He said the building is not suitable or equipped to handle today’s technology.

As it stands, the school system will retain the current site and repurpose it, said Cason, adding that there is not yet a firm starting date for construction of the new school.

In its presentation, Altman and Barrett estimated that design and construction would take about three years to complete, from start to finish.

“We are very excited, absolutely thrilled, to be designing our hometown high school,” said Walter Altman.

Altman said he graduated from VHS in 1987, served as the class president, played sports, “and did a little bit of everything. Getting to design VHS is a dream come true.”

There isn’t a firm timeline for the project yet, but Altman said they will establish one as the process moves forward. Currently, the firm is assisting the school system in having the proposed property approved by the Georgia Department of Education, which has strict criteria for school sites.

“So far, the site looks good,” Altman said. “We just finished the new Decatur High School, the Pelham city high school, and we’re working now on Colquitt

County High School in Moultrie, so we are real familiar with the process. We know how to get them through the site approval, and how to develop the sites. Right now, we have to do the phase one environmental studies, work with the Georgia Department of Transportation, and plan for utilities.”

The proposed site is 185 acres and Altman said one of the Georgia DOE issues is ensuring that there is enough acreage to accommodate everything possible that can be put on the site. Altman and Barrett already have a “huge master plan” for the site, which includes potential tennis courts, soccer fields, swimming, and more — anything that may be needed in the next 75 years.

Walter Altman and Keith Barrett both worked for IPG before starting their Valdosta firm in 2006.

“We’ve both worked on projects with the other two firms in the running, and they are both outstanding firms as well,” Altman said.

The firm also emphasized in its presentation that it is committed to ensuring that the majority of the subcontracting jobs on the site will remain in the local community, with larger jobs broken into smaller segments to give more minority and small firms the opportunity to compete for the contracts.

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