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West Jefferson Hills selects design team for new high school

| Friday, May 2, 2014, 12:15 p.m.

WTW Architects and Grimm + Parker have been selected to design the new Thomas Jefferson High School.

The West Jefferson Hills School Board in a 6-0 vote approved hiring the firms that will work as a team on the project. The building committee had considered 14 companies, then narrowed the list to five, which made presentations at special meetings last month.

The $70 million project will include a new high school and administration building on Old Clairton Road. District officials hope to have the project completed by September 2018.

The partnership of WTW, a Pittsburgh firm, and Grimm + Parker, out of Maryland, was described as being a “dynamic, experienced team” and “a firm with the most school experience in constructing K-12 buildings,” said Deb Pozycki, chairperson of the 10-member building committee. Seven of the group's votes went to WTW/Grimm + Parker as the first choice.

The architects' services are capped at 5.71 percent of the total bid cost for the project.

It was the firms' focus on student-centric design that garnered the board's support.

“It's not just bricks and mortar and a roof,” board President Tony Angotti said. “It's about the educational component that goes on inside.”

The committee was especially impressed with the experience of Steve Parker, founder of Grimm + Parker and the firm's educational consultant, who will lead district officials through decisions as the project progresses.

“We answered a lot of the questions posed to us and illustrated how we would work with the district,” said Doug Shuck, owner of WTW. “It will be an inclusive process.”

Shuck and his team hope to speak to as many of the stakeholders as they can, including teachers and students, as plans take shape. While there are beautiful views from the site, Shuck recognizes the challenges of land that has been strip-mined and could present mine and soil issues.

Superintendent Michael Panza described the selection as “the start of a four-year marriage.”

Board member David Graham was absent from the voting meeting. Shauna D'Alessandro, vice president of the board, and Marianne Neel, abstained from voting because they said they didn't hear the architects' presentations.

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or ddreeland@tribweb.com.

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