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Little Butte School project will blend into Eagle Point

The design of Little Butte Elementary School's replacement building will reflect the style of some of downtown Eagle Point's other architecture, especially West Main Street's covered bridge, says the new school's architect.

The Eagle Point School Board on Wednesday approved the school's schematic design by BBT Architects of Bend.

The school, which will be called Hillside Elementary School, will be about 54,000 square feet with 22 to 24 classrooms arranged into what is known in education as learning communities, shared spaces with skylights and gabled roof reminiscent of the nearby covered bridge on West Main between North Shasta and North Royal avenues. The school will stand next to the current Little Butte School, 12 N. Shasta Ave.

"We tried to make it connect with the fabric of Eagle Point," says architect Todd Turner of BBT.

The school district is using $12 million of insurance proceeds to build the new school, which will be called Hillside Elementary. The new school is needed to address overcrowding and aging facilities at the nearly 80-year-old Little Butte, district officials say. Little Butte lacks modern conveniences, such as air-conditioning.

The $12 million came from a settlement with New York-based Great American Insurance Co. over a fire at Eagle Point Junior High eight years ago.

The design of the new school is similar to about 10 other schools BBT has designed, most of which are in the Bend-La Pine and Redmond areas, with modifications to fit Eagle Point's request for a reduced square footage and a full-service kitchen, Turner says.

Constructed of masonry with metal siding, the school will have four classroom wings, each with six classrooms and a central activity room conjoining the classrooms. That design is a relatively modern adaptation to a concept known as learning communities, which promotes interaction and collaboration between teachers and classes and group activities. The crown of each activity room will have a skylight to bring in natural light. The school also will have a conjoined cafeteria and multi-purpose room, which doubles as a gymnasium. A library and administrative office will be located in the center of the building, with classroom wings radiating out.

"I think it's a very nice design," says Scott Whitman, Eagle Point schools business manager. "The community is going to be very proud of the building."

Construction will begin in late February or early March, Whitman says.

Students are expected to move in by winter 2012.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or e-mail pachen@mailtribune.com.

Little Butte School project will blend into Eagle Point