Ann Arbor Public Schools lay the foundation stone for the first new elementary school in 50 years

ANN ARBOR, MI – Architectural and engineering firms selected to design and build the Ann Arbor Pubic Schools’ first new elementary school in more than 50 years.

The Board of Education at Ann Arbor Public Schools has approved the collaboration with Neumann / Smith Architecture of Southfield together with its partners Fielding International of Ferndale and IMEG Corporation of Novi on the construction of a new Mitchell Elementary, which is scheduled for completion in 2024.

The companies were selected from seven different proposals and interviewed by the district’s project selection committee, which included the headmaster, assistant headmaster, AAEA building representative, other building staff, and members of the superintendent’s cabinet.

With an estimated construction cost of $ 29.5 million, professional architectural and design fees are approximately $ 1.83 million based on a 6.25% fee of the construction cost.

Mitchell Elementary was built in 1951 and has seen a surge in enrollments over the past five years due to the success of its International Baccalaureate program. The new Mitchell Elementary will be the first elementary building in the county since Bryant Elementary in 1973.

The building has expanded three times in the last decade, making it the ideal candidate for new builds as well as a lounge area for other elementary school children who are going through major construction projects in the years to come, said Emile Lauzzana, executive director of capital projects at AAPS.

“Other schools don’t have the land area Mitchell has,” Lauzzana said. “We can build the new Mitchell and occupy the old Mitchell and use it as a residence for other schools that don’t have the land available.”

The same design firms were selected from nine proposals to partner with AAPS on the redesign of the Pathways to Success Campus, originally built as the Stone School Elementary in 1948.

This project is slated to cost $ 17.5 million, with a 6.5% professional fee estimated to cost an estimated $ 1.13 million, to make the building more conducive to the current high school population.

“Our goal has always been to balance this historic elementary school with the small high school learning community and specialized learning on the Pathways campus,” said Superintendent Jeanice Swift.

Mitchell and Pathways are the first major construction projects the district will tackle with funding from the US $ 1 billion bond approved by voters in 2019.

An assessment of the condition of Mitchell’s facilities found that elementary school had the second highest capital investment need in the district at $ 260 per square foot over the next 10 years, Lauzzana said, placing it in the critical needs category for the next several years.

According to Lauzzana, the new Mitchell Elementary is envisaged as a flagship of sustainability as a 100% electric building with no energy supply.

Jeff Oke, IMEG project manager, said an environmentally friendly building would also be helpful in enabling students to use it.

“Not only do we want to build a very sustainable building, we want students to interact with this building and understand how it works and how it helps reduce the impact on the environment,” said Oke.

Prior to construction, the architecture and engineering teams will attend approximately 40 to 60 hour community engagement sessions with the community, which can take the form of workshops, forums, and discussions to help the team narrow down the vision for the fielding projects International support community engagement leader Mike Posthumus said.

The planning and commitment of the community will begin in autumn 2021, construction work will begin in summer 2023.

Engaging community and district stakeholders prior to construction is important to help the design team understand what the school district and community are trying to achieve through the new building, Posthumus said.

“We want to differentiate between how people can contribute and provide feedback so that everyone can own these amazing buildings at the end of the process,” said Posthumus.

Although no initial design concepts were offered, Fielding International Design Principal James Seaman said the overall idea was to create a variety of study spaces with flexibility.

An example of a classroom concept that Seaman recently offered during a board meeting connected two classrooms as study studios or suites. The classrooms also have flexible common areas, small group spaces and an active laboratory space, while teachers can work together in a common space.

“How we’re approaching school design is really seeing it as a learning community,” Seaman said. “With this variety, you can adapt the learning activity to the type of space that is conducive to it.”


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