Steamboat Mountain School wins vote of approval from county planning for new student center
Steamboat Mountain School wins approval for project
Steamboat Springs — The Routt County Planning Commission voted unanimously June 2 to approve Steamboat Mountain School’s plan to build a 6,300-square-foot building intended to modernize the campus of the private high school on multiple fronts.
There was no public comment during the hearing, and County Planner Alan Goldich told Planning Commission he had not received written comment either for or against the project.
Steamboat Mountain School officials told Steamboat Today in October 2015 the school had been offered a gift of $500,000 toward the new building, predicated on its ability to raise matching funds. The school’s goal was to raise $1.5 million toward the cost of the building.
Head of School Meg Morse told planning commissioners that, among the advantages offered by the new building will be the creation of three new classrooms (which will replace others in a modular building), the addition of a lounge in which both boarding students and students from the community can socialize, accessibility, for the first time, to the upper floors of two existing campus buildings and gains in energy efficiency.
“Since we have boarding students, it’s important that we have good space for them to interact with each other,” Morse said.
The new building is also emblematic of a change in thinking about the future of the school, which was founded in 1957. Steamboat Mountain School was conceptually approved about a decade ago to construct a building almost twice the size of the 2016/2017 student center in order to grow to accommodate a student population of 125. Now, however, Morse said she and her board agree that 80 students is the ideal number for their programming.
County Planner Alan Goldich described the positive changes the new building will offer people with mobility issues in a written description of the project: “Currently, there is no way for mobility-impaired students and guests to access the second floors of the Borden Center and Williams Lodge. Since the new student center will have an elevator and an elevated walkway to (both of the existing buildings), access … to the upper floors will be achieved.”
The new building at the 150.54-acre school property, located about four miles north of downtown Steamboat on Routt County Road 36, will be built within a wedge-shaped parcel on the north side of the existing Borden Center and Charlie Williams Lodge, linking all three into a single building.
This will allow the construction of the elevator to provide accessibility to all three buildings and, at the same time, eliminate the need for students to open and close exterior doors all winter while moving between Borden and Williams, reducing heat loss.
For students, their daily lives will be enriched by a gathering place in the new building, where they will be able watch movies together, sit at bistro-style tables or play ping-pong and billiards. The second floor will contain three new classrooms, replacing others in a modular building. There will also be a student health center.
From the standpoint of county regulations, Goldich said, the biggest question for Planning Commission was whether the new building succeeded in making three generations of structures more visually appealing. The campus is visible from Routt County Road 36 by people on their way to Strawberry Park Hot Springs.
Architect Ed Becker, of Mountain Architecture Design Group, acknowledged “there’s quite a bit of eclectic architecture on campus.”
Becker said the goal of blending the design of the three buildings will be dealt with largely by treating all three with harmonious colors and trimming off extended log details at the corners of Hill Lodge.
The older buildings will also get new, energy-efficient windows, and Hill Lodge — the main building on campus that houses the administrative offices — will get a new airlock front entry.
The general contractor for the project is Fox Construction, and work is expected to begin this summer.
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Routt County’s Human Resources Coalition has outlined a three-year plan to help vulnerable county residents, putting particular focus on affordable housing, transit and mental health.