APS still must choose an architectural firm to complete the design for a new Buckhead high school, school officials said last week.
Speaking to a meeting of the Mount Paran-Northside Citizens Association, Jere J. Smith III, director of capital improvements for APS, said the school system has a "short list" of four firms under consideration. The four come from the school system's pool of 16 firms, he said.
The four are Perkins + Will, Cooper Carry, Gardner Spencer Smith Tench & Hensley and Manley Spangler Smith, he said.
The school system expects on May 2 to complete its $56 million purchase of 56 acres on Northside Parkway from Jamestown Properties for construction of a new North Atlanta High School, school officials said.
The architect will do a complete design for the new school, said Larry L. Hoskins, APS deputy superintendent of operations. The APS at present only has a conceptual site plan for the school.
Smith and Hoskins said that at least one building at the site, now occupied by IBM, will be used for the new school. They said another exisitng building could possibly be used. The new school will need an auditorium and a cafeteria, Smith said, acknowledging that the IBM complex includes a cafeteria.
"The majority of this project will be renovation," Smith said. Because the property will require much less construction than an open "greenfield site," the school system expects little difficulty with the school opening by August 2013. Smith said construction is expected to begin by January 2012, which will give APS "more than 18 months to get it done."
Hoskins told the group, "we will be ready. Trust me, we will be ready."
The new site will allow the APS to relieve overcrowding at APS is considering several middle school options, Hoskins and District 4 school board member Nancy Meister said.
One plan is for the current complex at 2875 Northside Drive to be used as a second middle school, along with Sutton. The second possibility is for the Sutton site to be used as a sixth grade academy and the North Atlanta site for seventh and eighth graders. Hoskins mentioned another possibility, without elaboration, that the Sutton site could be used as a new elementary school.
"No decision will be made before October" on the middle school configuration, Meister said.
Both the Sutton and North Atlanta buildings have undergone extensive renovations in recent years. With the new high school, "we are building toward a place where we have a great cluster of schools," Meister said. "If we could push a button and have it done today, we would, but we are where we are."
Smith said the new high school will "conform to all the setback requirements of the city" and that APS will acquire all of the necessary permits "like any other builder." He said the school's design will be submitted to the Urban Design Commission.