Career Center renovations affected by land constraints

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry During Monday night’s meeting of the Warren County School District school board, Architect Doug Abbatiello of HHSDR Architects points out some of the changes on the way with the renovation of Warren County Career Center.

The terrain surrounding Warren County Career Center is dictating some of the renovation project there.

At Monday night’s meeting of the Warren County School District school board, architects Bob Englebaugh and Doug Abbatiello of HHSDR Architects presented information about the career center project.

“The site does not give us many options of how to add to this building,” Abbatiello said. “The options are pretty much to the south or the north.”

The architects have designed a project that will create a two-story addition to the south of the building’s existing main entrance. The steep, rising terrain between the career center and the parking lot and driveway north of Warren Area High School means the new entrance will be about “half a level below the main floor,” Abbatiello said.

Board member Arthur Stewart questioned the architects on the need for a two-story addition and the required elevator. He asked if other options were considered over the expense of an elevator.

“We needed two floors to get the square-footage we needed,” Englebaugh said. “With the existing grade of the site… you almost have to enter at that point.”

Asked if the existing structure could support a second story, the architects said it could not. The new construction could, but it would need to be designed for that possibility and would cost more, Englebaugh said. “The roof would have to be designed to be a floor.”

In addition to a new, secure entrance, the administrative suites will be located in that new construction.

There will also be new construction at the north end of the building and connecting the original building and the newer building to its northeast.

“We’re expecting an addition to the north,” Abbatiello said. “We’re expecting to bridge the gap between the two buildings.”

“A big change happens with both the auto shops,” he said. “Both of them expand into that new addition. The area of those suites basically doubles.”

The building construction occupations program will have its own building, according to the plan.

“The point of building that as a stand-alone building… one of the things they do is build modular homes,” Abbatiallo said. “We knew there was a need to try to build these inside a building… a building that is large enough to accommodate half of a building… and the tools… in order to support this largely-carpentry operation.”

One program that will not receive much attention is the relatively new welding shop.

“Welding? That’s pretty much what it needs to be right now,” Abbatiello said.

Superintendent Amy Stewart said flexibility was a key in the design of the renovation. “This building has to last us decades. Who knows what we’ll need.”

HHSDR has been involved in projects at some 50 school districts throughout the western Pennsylvania region, Englebaugh said.