GSHS plan draws praise, criticism

Ryan GraffPost Independent Staff

Some of Glenwood Springs High Schools neighbors are praising the preliminary plan for a new high school, while others question major components of the site and the buildings context in the city.Community members saw schematic designs and models of the school at an open house held by the Roaring Fork School District last week. The event drew a crowd largely concerned with traffic flow around the school. Lunchtime is crazy in our neighborhood, said Pam Tate, who lives on Polo Road near the school. She said students drive too fast on neighborhood streets near the school, and she is worried about her kids safety. She hoped the design of the new school might minimize student traffic on her street.The schools plan, as it stood Wednesday, was to have the students access parking from 14th Street. The architects and design advisory groups logic was that having students enter the lots from Grand Avenue would be dangerous and cause congestion on Grand. Theyre all getting on Grand Avenue anyway, they just meander through side streets before they do, said Michael Gamba, a Polo Road resident and a civil engineer who works on parking projects.Lets get them there directly, he said. RTA Architects had already hired a traffic engineer to reconsider parking and traffic around the school, and newly raised concerns would certainly be considered, said Pat Ziuchkovski, an RTA principal. Some also took issue with the schematics plan to have one end of a 300-foot-long hallway near Grand Avenue. The building should have an urban form and a big Grand Avenue presence, said Steven Spears, a landscape architect for the private company Design Studio. He believes the building doesnt address its context, with Grand an urban street, he said on one side, the bike path and Roaring Fork River on the other, and neighborhoods to the north and south.Architects argued that the building will have presence on Grand. The buildings dramatic south facade will be visible for blocks from Grand, said Ziuchkovski. Additionally, the building near Grand will let the students be seen, and the architecture will stand out. Its really going to be seen as the heart of the building, said architect Mark Harris. Beyond that, the plans call for an urban-style community park on Grand Avenue, which the city has pushed for, Ziuchkovski said. Another complaint was that the 1429 Grand Ave. building which is occupied by Bray & Co. wasnt purchased or included in the site. The Bray building is like a missing tooth, in the site design, said Rebecca Leonard, who is a city planner and lives on Pitkin. But there is likely little that architects or the district can do to remedy that. If the site plan changed dramatically, it would delay the project a year, Ziuchkovski said. Despite the criticism, almost everyone praised the buildings layout and programming. The design is still very much a work in progress, and last weeks comments will surely be taken into consideration, Ziuchkovski said.Contact Ryan Graff: 945-8515, ext.

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