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West plans raise eyebrows
West rendering3
This scheme presented by architect Allen Hill of Upland Design Group was not well received.

A row of high windows well above eye level to bring natural light into the cafeteria of West Elementary was one idea offered by architect Allen Hill of Upland Design Group to enliven the school in his renovation plans.

But it was another scheme, a combination of brick along with red, white and gray rectangular metal panels, that generated audible feedback at Thursday’s School Board meeting. This was regarding the outside of West Elementary

“We could do a multi-colored pattern and the panels would be approximately 14 inches high by a fixed length so we can connect them together in such a way that we can make larger vertical blocks of color,” explained Hill.

The slide with the scheme showcasing what West would look like with this multi-colored pattern solicited whispers of disapproval, head shaking, and even a few laughs in disbelief.
School Board member Bill Zechman reminded everyone “to keep an open mind” while Teddy Jones said “it’s an eye catcher.”

When asked if another school had ever used this pattern before, Hill answered, “We’ve not done it before in that pattern, but there was a school in Arizona with something similar.”

Added Jones, “If I could interject this, at what point do we stop and say this is not what we want at all? We don’t want to spend $3 million and not get what we want.”

Jones also suggested going to the city and saying this property is not working because he is in favor of building a new school.

Director of Schools Bobby Cox reminded School Board members the longer they delay renovations, the more it’s going to cost for construction.

“Mt. Juliet just opened bids for their new high school at $107 million and Collierville opened their bids two years ago and just completed their high school at $90 million so in two years the same size high school went from $90 million to $107 million,” said Cox.

“We need to move on and make a decision,” said School Board member Helen Martin. “There is no money so we need to take what we have and do what we can at this point. My vote is to move on.”

Hill addressed the School Board and said he is on schedule to receive bids for West Elementary just before Christmas around Dec. 15.

The School Board voted to proceed in putting the renovation project out to bid to determine cost.