The Bush School plans to carry out the first phase of a major capital facilities upgrade in 2021, constructing a 22,000-square-foot educational building on its upper campus.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” said Head of School Dr. Percy Abram. “We’re just sort of gearing up and talking to the families here about how we’re going to approach it.”
The Upper School building will provide additional classrooms and meeting space, with a multipurpose room that could serve as a 400-seat auditorium.
It will be used by students when demolition starts on the old middle school building, which will be replaced with a new three-story, 66,000-square-foot facility. The new middle school building will include classrooms, a commons/dining room, library, administrative offices and an underground garage that will be used for storing 18 school vehicles. That garage will be accessed at East Republican Street.
“We started in 1924, so opening the doors in 2024 will be our hundredth year,” Abram said of the anticipated completion timeline.
The current library building will be converted into a gymnasium, Abram said.
“So we would have three gymnasiums for three divisions, which would really help with scheduling,” he said.
The Upper School is expected to take 12 months to complete once construction starts, Abram said, and then the new middle school’s construction will begin the following academic year.
The Gracemont building will remain, Abram said, and is historically significant to the school and community. Wissner Hall will also stay in place.
“Gracemont will get renovations,” he said. “It’s a URM (unreinforced masonry building) and we’ll just wait for the city to decide that timeline,” he said.
The city is currently exploring whether to make seismic upgrades to at-risk URMs mandatory.
As The Bush School eyes its impending construction start, Abram said plans are to raise 50-60 percent of the cost of the project and finance the rest.
“We’re in the phase now where we’re talking with families to see how they want to make this possible,” he said.
A traffic study generated by Heffron Transportation Inc., states around 90 percent of students are driven to and from school, with about two-thirds of those trips involving family drop-offs and pick-ups. Around 87 percent of the faculty also drives to work.
The traffic study finds that once construction is completed, The Bush School will see an increase of 85 new trips during morning peak hours, 42 during the afternoon peak and 22 for the evening peak.
Moving school vehicles to a new underground garage will free up about 21 existing parking spaces for faculty, students and visitors in The Bush School’s 125-stall garage accessed at East Harrison Street, according to the study.
Upper School pick-ups and drop-offs will take place on East Republican Street.
The Bush School hired architecture firm Mithun to design the new facilities, which will be constructed by Abbott Construction.