Schematic Drawings Released And February Community Meeting Set

A conceptual rendering included as part of the planned Waters Annex design.

This week the Public Building Commission released schematic drawings and conceptual drawing of the planned Waters Elementary Annex and Chicago Public Schools representatives met with members of the Local School Council. LSC members learned a community meeting is planned for February, but none of the new community requests made in November will be included in the design.

Design documents can be found here, in this gDrive folder. Released documents include internal schematic drawings, a traffic study and zoning analysis. Also included is a roof analysis of the existing building, a new roof for the main building is planned as part of project. The documents were released by PBC as part of bid documents for a construction manager for the project.

What follows is an unedited report written by LSC chair Erica Smith, following her Friday meeting with CPS officials.

Today, we (Principal Kipp, Mr. Leki, Jessie Novak, and myself) were invited to meet again with a group of representatives from the Public Building Commission (PBC), Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and this time Bailey-Edward Design. This is my personal take on the meeting, which I am sharing as a parent representative on the Local School Council (LSC) and someone who has been involved in conversations about annexation for the past few years. Of course, other attendees may have come away with different talking points.

The project was described as on-time and on-budget. The design looks quite similar to the design we saw in November (to my non-expert eyes), except that the additional parking spaces will now be added by re-striping the current parking lot. The project has been transferred from Legat Architects (schematic design) to Bailey-Edward (design development, Architects of Record). The design development phase is estimated to be complete in 1 to 1.5 weeks, at which point they will run the numbers again on the budget. The foundation will have to go very deep, based on soil bearing capacity, which takes away some of the wiggle room in the budget. The P2 submission and construction manager hiring will happen on 1/25. PBC is meeting with Ms. Kipp at the end of the month to discuss the phasing of the project.

The community-wide meeting will likely now be in late February. I asked what the goal of that meeting was, and the response was informational: to inform the community and neighbors of the timeline, project scope and design, and what to expect during construction. When I asked about the level of community input that would be considered, they indicated that they consider community input to have already been vetted by Ms. Kipp and those of us in the room. I think this is true regarding programmatic and space needs as well as location of the annex, but not in terms of the actual design and composition of the new space. Fences will go up in March, and digging will commence.

Mr. Leki was asked about Snake and Turtle, at which point he broke into song and told the magical tale (if only he’d brought his guitar!). He asked about the timeline of the fencing and the possibility of using the construction equipment/crews to move the effigy mounds as well as the edible plants. They seemed to be open to that, but said it would have to be coordinated with the construction manager. There was also significant discussion about the nature play area and landscaping, which I think we will have more input on than the building design.  The architects were very interested and took copious notes.

Following the November meeting, I met with several design and sustainability professionals in our community and showed them the preliminary design. These professionals compiled a list of design comments and suggestions, which was shared in December by email with PBC, CPS, and Legat Architects. Today, I asked for a response to those comments. They said, essentially, that most of those suggestions were either not in the budget or not appropriate to the site. I requested that we have a follow-up meeting with PBC/CPS and the LSC Facilities and Grounds subcommittee to discuss those points in more detail. They agreed to do that before the community meeting in February.

Alderman Pawar mentioned that his office is fielding some community input in opposition to the project in its entirety, based on building height, parking, and traffic concerns. So, we need to prepare for that as well.

In summary:

Good news–the garden to the South will not be impacted, they seem willing to work with Mr. Leki on deconstructing and salvaging plants and effigy mounds from the NE corner, and we get a new building meeting many (but not all) of our ‘wishlist’ items!

Bad news–the timeline and budget are locked, which means there is no time to consider alternatives, or funds to address the needs not met by the design and scope of this project.

The LSC will be doing monthly updates on the status of the project at our regular meetings (listed in the school calendar) moving forward.

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