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MailTribune.com
  • Lone Pine closer to construction

    Architects close to finishing blueprint for $15 million school project
  • The demolition this summer of most of Medford's 82-year-old Lone Pine Elementary School will open the way for construction of an almost entirely new school.
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  • The demolition this summer of most of Medford's 82-year-old Lone Pine Elementary School will open the way for construction of an almost entirely new school.
    Architects have nearly finalized plans for the $15.8 million replacement school, funded by a $189 million bond issue voters approved in November 2006.
    The design includes five buildings equaling about 63,500 square feet, 3,700 square feet larger than the existing school.
    "I think people are really excited for something new simply because the building was built in so many different stages," said Principal Kristi Anderson. "People are excited about getting new pieces to make it more cohesive."
    When construction is complete, about 34,100 square feet of the school will be new. The library/media center on the south end of the campus and two long classroom wings equaling 13 classrooms on the east side, both built in 1982, will be preserved and renovated.
    Lone Pine was built in 1926 with only four classrooms to replace a school built there in 1887, then known as the Red Top School for the color of its roof.
    Located on the side of a hill, the school has been added to or renovated 10 times. Each building can have dramatically different elevations, sometimes causing flooding during severe weather and increasing the difficulty of movement for some students with disabilities, said Mark Cork, of Mahlum Architects in Seattle, which is designing the school.
    The new school will feel more level and cohesive, Cork said.
    Renovations will begin this summer.
    The two existing classroom wings on the east side will receive mechanical and electrical upgrades, asbestos removal and new windows, roofing, flooring and other finishes.
    "One of the reasons we are keeping the larger of the classroom wings is it has good natural daylight and good teaching spaces," Cork said. "The classrooms are larger than any we would have built (under budget constraints)."
    The smaller classroom wing will get new windows and skylights to increase the amount of natural light, linked in some studies to improve academic performance.
    The existing library will get new siding, carpet and paint. The upper level of the building will remain largely unchanged, while the lower floor will have restrooms. Three teaching spaces on the lower level will be made into one.
    Ashland-based Adroit Construction will build two new buildings in 2009, including a combined gymnasium and cafeteria on the west side of the campus and administrative-classroom structure on the north side.
    The new gymnasium and cafeteria will be divided by a partition that can open up to create enough space for all of the school staff and students to assemble at once, an ability the school now lacks. The building will also hold a kitchen, faculty lounge, music room and restrooms.
    The administrative-classroom building will be made up of two floors with the administrative office and one classroom downstairs. Upstairs are restrooms, eight new classrooms and five large learning rooms.
    "Right now, our office looks out below ground so when we look out to the parking lot we are looking at foot level," Anderson said. "Some kids look down at me like I'm in a fish bowl."
    "In my office, you can tap on the wall, and it feels like the wall is falling apart because it's damp and underground," she added.
    The existing combined gymnasium and cafeteria, the administration building and the original 1926 structure will be demolished possibly as early as this summer. A fourth building of four classrooms will remain on campus until the new construction is complete, at which time it also will be razed.
    The 1926 building's basement has been condemned because of repeated flooding.
    "I think the sentimental feelings about the old structure have come from community members who went to the school in the 1960s," Anderson said.
    The school plans to hold an event at the end of the school year when alumni can visit the school and have their photograph taken in front of the old building. A date has not yet been set for the event.
    For more information about the Medford School District's bond program, visit www.medfordschooldistrict.org.
    Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.
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