Architects finalize schematic design for new school |

Architects finalize schematic design for new school

Plans for the new pre-K through eighth-grade school in West Steamboat Springs is nearing the end of the design phase. Groundbreaking is anticipated in May.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Working up until the last minute to meet the deadline for the schematic design, architects from Hord Coplon Macht presented their plans for the new pre-K through eighth-grade school to the Design Advisory Group on Thursday, Jan. 23.

They walked the group through the site, first and second floor plans and gave them a tour of the exterior using 3D software. The 3D view showed what the school would look like from the neighborhoods closest to the school.

The new school is expected to break ground this summer on the 35 acres of Steamboat Springs School District land purchased in 1997 in Steamboat II. In 2019, the district purchased another 35-acre parcel adjacent to the new school site.

Construction of the new school is being funded as part of the $79.5 million ballot issue narrowly passed by voters Nov. 5, 2019. About $52 million is dedicated to the new school, while the remainder is designated for upgrades at all of the district’s existing facilities.

Separate design advisory groups have begun meeting for projects at Steamboat Springs Middle School, Strawberry Park Elementary School and Soda Creek Elementary School.

Thursday’s meeting was the fifth for the group of about 20 people who are focused on the new school, which includes a mix of parents, neighbors and district staff and administrators.

The first public meeting about the new school will be held March 5.

The group has been touring other new schools in the region for inspiration and refining lists of core values and guiding principles. 

A focus of the Jan. 9 group meeting was incorporating sustainable goals in terms of energy and water use. Another key guiding principle is building the school with flexibility to convert to either an elementary school or middle school depending on future needs.

The 74,000-square-foot school is being designed to hold — at capacity, which is not anticipated for a number of years — 30 preschool students, 280 elementary students and 180 middle school students.

The Steamboat Springs School Board approved a contract with FCI Constructors to build the new school at the board’s Jan. 13 meeting.

If you go
What: PreK-8 community meeting open house
When: 6:30 p.m. March 5
Where: Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1597 Lincoln Ave.

With the design process well underway, the architects will now begin to bring pricing details back to the group at its Feb. 13 meeting, allowing for an evaluation of how close they are to being on budget.

Some of the final changes made to the site plan included moving a parking lot to where less of the hillside would have to be cut away and moving playgrounds to some of the more sloped terrain.

The main entrance from the school will be to the north of the site at a planned roundabout off of Routt County Road 42. A smaller road, connecting the site directly to U.S. Highway 40 to the south, is not intended for a lot of traffic, said owners rep Colleen Kaneda. It is part of meeting access requirements under fire codes and will only allow a right turn in and a right turn out.

All roadway elements of the design are subject to change and must still be worked out with traffic engineers and various local and state agencies. A stoplight is planned for the intersection of C.R. 42 and U.S. 40.

First floor plan

Members of the advisory group asked about a path connecting the campus to Steamboat II, which had appeared on previous site plans. They stressed the community’s desire for a year-round maintained path for walking and biking kids to school.

Kaneda said the district can only build on its property, and it is not sure yet if something can be built on the Steamboat II Metro District property.

Second floor plan

The group talked about using some of the property for a baseball field for use by the entire district, but the consensus was the remaining open space was on too steep of a grade.

Teachers in the group talked about the importance of incorporating “breakout spaces” — smaller areas or rooms dedicated to group learning — and whether those should be contained inside or outside of a classroom.

They discussed the cafeteria and common area, which at this time is designed with an oversized set of “learning stairs,” which would function as a structure on which kids can study, eat, congregate and put on performances.  

Plans call for big windows and a lot of natural light, and the design group advised on nature-based colors for the exterior over bright colors. The media center/library is designed with a big wall of windows, and plans call for translucent windows above the gymnasium.

At this stage, questions and feedback are focusing more into the details, like, where should the janitor’s closet go and should kindergarteners have bathrooms in their classrooms?

The next phase, design development, is set for a March 11 meeting, and the final phase, construction documents, will be tackled in May or June.

Presentations and minutes from the meetings can be found at

The design for the new school will not be finalized until after the March 5 community meeting.

To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.

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