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Architect firm chosen for Norwin STEM center

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By Amanda Dolasinski
Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, 3:30 p.m.

An architect with an “out-of-the-box” vision has been selected to begin a feasibility study for possible construction on Norwin School District's building aimed to streghten students' skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Hayes Large Architects was unanimously approved by school board directors to conduct the study for the Norwin STEM Innovation Center for Teaching and Learning. It was one of three firms being considered.

The board chose Hayes Large because its approach was “out-of-the-box” compared to other firms, Robert Perkins, president of the school board, said.

“Hayes Large recognized that the STEM center would not be a traditional school building,” he said.

Directors heard presentations from Hayes Large Architects and the other two finalists last week.

The other firms being considered were Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates, in Mechanicsburg and Canzian Johnston and Associates in New Kensington.

Committee members weighed the merits of each firm, focusing on their experience in projects dealing with public education, higher education and STEM. They also examined the companies' energy efficiency.

Dwight Knouse II, executive partner with Hayes Large, called the district's leadership in STEM education “exemplary.”

Architects with the firm will hold focus group sessions to understand the types of spaces and equipment necessary for the center, Knouse said. Career areas to be taught at the center may include manufacturing technology, health care, education, biomedical, bioscience and medical technology, pharmacy, dentistry, renewable and clean energy, environmental sciences, aviation and aerospace and information technology.

Administrators' vision for the center includes freshmen and sophomores studying under the tutelage of scientists and engineers as they work through projects. Juniors and seniors could participate in internships with STEM experts, according to the district.

Although officials have not estimated a cost for the project, the district has submitted a formal grant application for $2.5 million to a foundation in partnership with Penn State Greater Allegheny as the primary applicant and fiscal agent. Officials declined to name the foundation until the review process moves through several stages of review and final determination.

The grant would serve as matching funds for a state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant request of $2.5 million for the proposed construction. The grant submission request includes an additional $500,000 for start-up funds for implementation of programs, facility management, sustainability and staffing.

Staff writer Rossilynne Skena contributed to this report. Amanda Dolasinski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or

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