Garner taps architect for secondary campus

Dale Rabe, right, of Architects Rabe and Partners gives a presentation to the Garner ISD board of trustees last week. On Monday, the GISD board hired the firm to design a secondary campus. 

Garner ISD board of trustees hired Architects Rabe and Partners to design a secondary campus during the meeting on Monday.

The decision was unanimous, Board President Clay Youngblood said.

The board approved moving forward on implementing a secondary campus in November. A secondary campus would address the growth the district is experiencing in its current building and allow families to continue their children’s education in GISD for the high school years, since the district now stops providing schooling after eighth grade. Having another building would alleviate space needs in the current campus by moving grades 6-8 into a secondary campus with grades 9-12, GISD Superintendent Rebecca Hallmark said in a previous interview.

The budget for a secondary campus is $10 million, Hallmark said. The potential site, which could change, for the new campus is on the east side of the current property and behind the current gym where about six acres has been donated. The goal is to open the campus in two to three years, and the board may consider calling for a May bond election.

Last week, the board met to interview three representatives from architectural firms for this project, and Hallmark said the architects interviewed were all of top quality. The firms Brown Reynolds Watford Architects, Architects Rabe and Partners and Harper Perkins Architects were represented.

“The board felt that Mr. [Dale] Rabe fit our needs most closely in experience and recent projects of similar scope,” Hallmark said.

Architects Rabe and Partners had visited the campus prior to their interview, which put them ahead of other candidates, Youngblood said. Overall, the firm spoke to the district’s needs, including financial and timeline specifications.

“We don’t have a lot of budget to work with, we don’t have a lot of tax base to go into,” Youngblood said. “If we can get a bond, we need somebody that’s going to be ultra efficient with it. They have a history of coming in under budget and a long history of repeat customers, repeat districts that are coming back to them over and over and over, and we saw that as a good sign of their ability to work with each client.”

Now that the architectural firm is hired, GISD’s Citizens Committee will meet with Rabe to determine what the new campus should look like and include, Hallmark said.

“Once the design process begins, Mr. Rabe will be working on the design on site so that district staff, committee and board members, as well as community members can come look at the designs and ask questions and provide feedback,” Hallmark said.

The district will save time in the design process by having the firm draw the designs on site, Youngblood said.

“Obviously, being able to be there in person to talk to our folks speeds that process up instead of, we do a plan, you send it out, you get everybody in contact. No, in this case we can stand right there,” Youngblood said. “They actually will draw it right in front of us, which being a former CAD artist myself, I can tell you is a skill that’s not found too often because most people don’t want to do that in front of you. They want to go take it back to their office and spend some time and collaborate and then present it back to you, and we don’t have time for that kind of stuff.”

Youngblood described Architects Rabe and Partners as able to use a “common sense approach to architectural design” like incorporating multipurpose spaces that last for years to come. 

“We want things to be multipurpose,” Youngblood said. “Obviously, a classroom is a classroom, but we’re looking for spaces that can double as a cafeteria, as a performance space, as a gym that can handle not just activities of athletics but performances.”

Youngblood said he believes the district is on the right track for this expansion.

“We’re trying to fix a 10-year plan here,” Youngblood said. “Once we get started here, I think it will build momentum, and I think it’s something the community really needs.”

Recommended for you