In spite of winds and snow, about 60 residents gathered March 14 at the Hudson library to learn about a possible option to renovate, rehab or reuse the historic section of the Hudson Middle School.
"Collaboration is the word of the century," said Brett Hendricks, president of BSHM Architects Inc. "That is what it is going to take to make the future work."
Hendricks and John Orsini, a partner in BSHM Architects Inc. shared their project for adaptive use to the 1925 portion of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights High School on Cedar Road.
The Hudson Heritage Association hosted the meeting to offer options for the future of the Hudson Middle School. President John Husat said the HHA is a history group and advocacy group.
The main mission is to promote historic preservation of the Western Reserve Community of Hudson, he said.
"Some of you brought the Cleveland Heights project to our attention," said Julie Ann Hancsak of HHA.
The Hudson City School District's Master Facilities Plan calls for the demolition of the 1927 Hudson Middle School.
The Board of Education has asked for more information on the costs to save and reuse the building.
The architectural firm of Westlake Reed Leskosky will study the issue, and the Cleveland Restoration Society will help in assessing the condition of the middle school.
Hudson City School District Superintendent Phil Herman attended the event.
Cleveland Heights-University Heights is applying the principles of adaptive reuse to preserve important aspects of its historic high school and renovate it for the 21st century.
Everything but the original 1925 high school building was demolished, Orsini said. There were numerous additions, including a science addition in front of the main historic entrance.
"There was a lot of work about clarity [of use]," Orsini said. "How do you enter the building?"
The historic main entrance became a courtyard with green space recovered in front of it. The entrance for students is on the side along a drive where parents can drop off their children.
"When we do a building, we have a conversation about the direction of education," Orsini said. "The district wanted collaborative teaching with project labs."
The old classrooms were too small, and everything inside was gutted, Orsini said. The old building was wrapped with an addition to create larger classrooms and shared space, and the new addition was added to the back of the historic section.
Historic features like the clock tower above the main entrance and collegiate architecture features were preserved and repeated in the new section to avoid flat, plain walls, Orsini said. In addition the window pattern was repeated, and the amount of natural light was an important factor for all the rooms.
"The brick work relates to the original, and we utilized sandstone in other places," Orsini said.
The wood and clay tile floors were preserved for memory, Orsini said.
"It's about memory for the students who attend," he said.
The new Heights High School will be solar panel ready with a hybrid geothermal heating and LED lighting that increased its energy cost efficiency to a gold level, Hendricks said.
The interior was completely gutted to create rooms for academics," Hendricks said. "It's a brand new building. It was a slow birth but it's grown up to be a beautiful baby."
Herman said the school district is looking at the options and costs to renovate the 1927 portion of the Hudson Middle School.
"I appreciate the efforts of the Hudson Heritage Association to bring the architects from the Cleveland Heights-University Heights project to Hudson," Herman said. "As we work to create a master facility plan that meets the needs of our students, it is always helpful to hear how other communities are creating opportunities and addressing challenges. Through these types of conversations and through the feasibility study currently underway on the 1927 portion of the middle school, we will be much better informed as a community to discuss options that respect the historical aesthetic of our community and develop a fiscally responsible plan."
The school district has recently posted some updates on its website www.hudson.k12.oh.us and will continue to update the page as additional information is available, Herman said. Go to the district home page and click on the "Master Facility Plan."
Residents approved the renovations to the Heights High School and hoped something similar could be done to the Hudson school.
One man said he lived in the neighborhood of the middle school and said it would be "shocking" to take the front of the building down and was glad an option was being considered.