BAR HARBOR — Oak Point Associates, an architectural and engineering firm in Biddeford, has been chosen by the Mount Desert Island High School Board of Trustees to design improvements to the school’s library and science labs.
While most of the 54-year-old building doesn’t look its age, the library and labs are a different story. They were not designed for teaching and learning in the third decade of the 21st century.
The trustees, who are responsible for the high school’s buildings and grounds, last spring voted to send a request for qualifications (RFQ) to architects for developing concept drawings and cost estimates for expanding the library and reconfiguring the labs.
Six firms submitted proposals. A group of three trustees and Eric Hahn, the school system’s operations manager, selected four of the firms to be interviewed.
“The four of us asked the representatives of the four firms the same four questions and added to them as we went through the respective interviews,” said group member Tony Smith. “At the end of the day, all four of us were very comfortable with Oak Point Associates and recommended to the Board of Trustees that they be hired.”
A project kick-off meeting has been held between the Oak Point project team and high school representatives, including the science teachers and librarian Davonne Pappas.
“In future meetings and/or by survey, members of the student body will be asked to participate in problem identification – what they see as needs.” Smith said. “The school’s Green Team will be invited to participate as well.”
Pappas told the trustees last spring that the library needs to be more flexible to accommodate various uses.
“That means having space for classes and meetings; but it’s also important to have enough space so the library doesn’t have to shut down in order for those other things to happen,” she said.
“To have our collection spread out in different areas rather than just in one big lump is really critical, because that allows for spaces to be carved out for individuals who want to read or work on their own and not be bothered by whatever else might be happening.
“Having spaces to allow for students and teachers to use the library in lots of different ways is going to enhance what our students get out of their school experience,” Pappas said.
Principal Matt Haney told the trustees last year that the science labs were fine for the 20th century.
“But that’s not really what we owe our kids and our community at this point,” he said. “We need to make sure it’s a great learning environment.
“We also need to have a better use of space because we have one more science teacher than we have science rooms. I don’t know that we need to add a seventh science lab, but we do need to make the labs we have more adaptable for different types of classes.”
Oak Point Associates has worked on a number of expansion and renovation projects at schools in Maine including Ellsworth Elementary/Middle School, Camden-Rockport Middle School, Nokomis Memorial Middle School/High School, Falmouth Elementary School, Waterville High School and Vinalhaven School.