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Tonawanda School Board sees designs for addition to building

Designs for the upcoming addition to the Tonawanda High/Middle School building were shown to the city School Board on Tuesday evening, as the district is moving ahead with its $11.9 million capital project that includes moving Clint Small Stadium to the high school.

Officials with Wendel Duchscherer Architects said they tried to design an addition that maintains continuity with the original building. The Tonawanda building, with large masses, angles and materials, was described as bland.

"It's been a hodgepodge of additions over the years," said Leanne Stepien of Wendel Duchscherer.

"For good or ill, this is a building without an iconic imagery," said Brian Brady of Wendel Duchscherer. "They really didn't create an image. It's like the exact opposite of the Albright [-Knox Art Gallery]. This is an opportunity to really give this building character."

The proposed solution includes a continuous window on the side of the addition facing Fletcher Street, which will house music rooms. The windows will feature an abstract design, based on the sheet music of the Tonawanda alma mater, that keeps with the color and tones of the original building.

"I'm really excited about this," Brady said. "This ties enough to what you have but really has some personality. It's one of the sharpest-looking school buildings built in the area in decades."

The board also heard from Peter Buckley of Pike Co., the firm designated to manage the construction of the capital project.

"The core of the project is on budget," he said. "We're in good shape. As the design continues to develop, we will continue to be vigilant."

Tonawanda is hoping to bid the project out over the summer and move forward with foundation work at the high school in the fall, with a construction break during the winter and the bulk of the work completed next summer. Officials are estimating about eight months for construction, depending on how quickly the state Education Department reviews the district's plans.

"We're weather-dependent in our world," Buckley said. "We don't want to start building in the middle of winter."

The Tonawanda community approved the district capital project last fall. In addition to the building addition and the new Clint Small Stadium on the high school and middle school campus, the project will remodel several other classrooms for art, locker and exercise rooms, revamp the main entrance and bus loop, and replace the roofs at Mullen and Riverview elementary schools.