NORTH RIDGEVILLE — North Ridgeville school leaders recently hired a Willoughby architecture firm to design the school system’s new third- through eighth-grade middle school.
ThenDesign Architecture, also known as TDA, was selected by school officials Friday, according to William Greene, assistant superintendent for building services.
The district’s choice was also the choice of the Ohio School Facilities Commission, which also weighed in on the selection.
TDA was one of three architectural firms that were narrowed down from an initial pool of 10 that submitted their services for consideration for the new school, which is to be built with money from a $58.1 million bond issue approved by voters last November.
North Ridgeville school officials learned that TDA was also favored by the OSFC when they posted the preference on the commission’s website Friday.
“We were very excited that the state agreed with us that TDA was our choice,” Greene said.
Westlake’s Lesko Associates and Balog, Steines, Hendricks & Manchester Architects, Inc. of Youngstown also submitted bids.
The OSFC, which works with local school districts on major construction projects, placed North Ridgeville at the top of the priority list for a new school based on factors including the district’s crowding and the deteriorating condition of the current middle school constructed in the 1920s.
The state commission will provide about $8 million or 17 percent of the costs of a new school.
The bond issue is to pay for a new school plus a new $5 million football stadium to replace one built in the 1950s that hasn’t been substantially improved since the 1960s.
School district officials met with the three finalists in early January to pay out their plans for what is needed and wanted in the new school.
A second round of interviews held last week saw the architects make their pitches “with what they could do for us,” Greene said.
“We got feedback that indicated our presentation was the most comprehensive the state and some of the architects had ever seen in terms of providing them with what we wanted in a new school,” Greene said. “That made us feel pretty good.”
While the district was pleased with all three firms, officials had a good feeling about TDA.
“We just felt the right connection for us was TDA,” Greene said. “We liked their enthusiasm from the start and that just carried right through.”
One big selling point in TDA’s favor was what Greene termed an innovative idea for the new football stadium to be built next to the new school, which is to be constructed on district-owned land near North Ridgeville High School on Bainbridge Road.
“It really opened some eyes as something that could set us apart” from other area stadiums,” Greene said.
TDA’s initial proposal called the stadium’s pressbox to be constructed out from a wall of the new school as opposed to the standard pressbox facilities seen atop home stands.
“They told us they’d never done it that way before,” Greene said.
Such a configuration would eliminate the need for separate locker rooms and restrooms since existing facilities inside the school could be used.
“The bleachers would be right up against the building and that could save us substantial money,” Greene said.
The pressbox concept is indicative of the “forward thinking” officials want to incorporate into the new school.
“We’re not talking 30-by-30 classrooms anymore,” Greene said in stressing the need for a flexible 21st-century learning environment to serve students for decades to come.
North Ridgeville officials toured a middle school in Massillon last week built by TDA and were impressed, according to Greene.
TDA also did design work on Lorain High School and Wellington Middle School.
Terms and costs of a contract for TDA’s services have yet to be negotiated.