MT. VERNON – No major changes are expected in the design of the new proposed Mt. Vernon Township High School building, as bidding is still set for late October, said Chief Architect Greg Brown.
Brown discussed the $72.8 million project at a meeting of the MVTHS Board of Education’s Building Committee Monday night.
At the meeting, a question arose of whether more seats could be added to the new school’s theater. Brown said such a change could not be done at this point without substantial design revisions.
“From now on out, most of the design is pretty much done,” Brown said.
The new proposed theater would have roughly 620 seats, compared to the high school’s current auditorium, which seats 1,200 to 1,300 people.
MVTHS Board member Jeff Harpole asked Brown Monday if additional seats could be installed. Harpole was concerned there may not be enough seats at the new theater for the MVTHS Theater for Kids program, which draws students from multiple counties.
“For the majority of (performances), what they’ve got will be fine,” Harpole said. “There’s just one in the fall when they bring kids in from the counties.”
Brown said his team at FGM Architects examined the theater seat issue in much detail months ago during planning for the new school’s design.
A decision was made to go with a 620-seat theater as opposed to an auditorium with a larger seating capacity.
Doing it this way is less expensive, but also allows for a theater that includes an orchestra pit, more elaborate lighting, catwalks, and other features, Brown said.
The cost difference between a 620-seat theater and a larger 800-seat facility would be over $1 million, Brown said.
“Basically, that was more of a cost-saving effort,” Brown said. “What they have now is an auditorium and they really wanted to go to something that was a theater, an actual living theater. There’s a lot more that goes into the theater because of the acoustics and the lighting and the sound system.”
Harpole and Brown agreed it may be possible to bring temporary seats into the new theater during more large-scale events.
In addition Monday, the Building Committee discussed where best to place the permanent MVTHS sign at the new campus. The main two placement options are near the student entrance or near the visitor/bus entrance, which is the “formal entrance” of the school, Brown said.
Brown added that school officials may also decide to place the larger permanent sign at one location, and then put a smaller informational sign at the other one.
Currently, the new school project is in the construction documents phase and this phase is about 60 percent complete.
Bids are still scheduled to be sent out Oct. 25, with a ground-breaking to be held in January.
Superintendent Michael Smith said it may be wise for the Building Committee to meet a few more times before the bids are sent out.