OHS science center plans are first out of the gate for Measure S funding

By Tina Richards

Plans for a new science building for Orange High School, as well as standard features for future facilities at Villa Park, Canyon and El Modena to be fashioned from Measure S funding, were presented to the Orange Unified School Board at its April 11 meeting.

A representative from Lionakis, the architecture firm selected for Orange High, reported that standardization of the new facilities would lower costs and be more efficient to build. Lionakis collaborated with teachers, staff and the architects hired to design new facilities at the other high schools, and to identify those standards.

It was determined that classrooms would be designed to accommodate 40 students and be outfitted with teaching walls with writable surfaces, integrated technology and Wi-Fi.

Science and chemistry labs would have the same features, plus sinks, epoxy surfaces, moveable tables and backpack storage (well away from lab activity). Natural daylight would be the favored illumination supplemented with high-quality lighting.

Standardization also includes classrooms specifically designed for “medically fragile” students.  They will feature restrooms, a kitchen, quiet space and testing areas.

Double duty
Orange High’s science center is slated to be two stories, encompassing 43,200 sq. ft. with eight 1,400- to 1,500-sq.-ft. science labs, four 2,200-sq.-ft. chemistry labs, one 1,200-sq.-ft. classroom and one medically fragile unit.  The second story features outdoor areas that students could “drop eggs from” and will overhang the first story at one end, creating a pavilion area below.  “Panther Pavilion” will provide outdoor space for eating, events and student gatherings.

The building will sit where the existing bus lane is, and will “connect the campus,” where the vehicle access divided it.

The cost is estimated at $52,338,568.  Hearing that number, board President Rick Ledesma said he had “sticker shock,” noting that $52 million was more than half of the total $70 million Measure S budget for OHS. 

He was told that part of that $52 million pricetag included “frontloading” the infrastructure of the entire campus.  That meant upgrading and centralizing all the electric and water utilities, and creating a “technology backbone” of cabling and other pathways for the entire campus.

The board approved the plans in a 6-0 vote.  Trustee John Ortega was absent.

Construction is expected to begin in June 2018 and be finished in December 2019.