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Mountain Home High School’s current building was built in the 1950s and added onto as the population grew. It has not been kept up well, and does not add a positive moral to the school or its culture. The exterior has faded badly, while the interior has inadequate furniture and materials that have not been replaced.
The goal of the Mountain Home Tenant Improvement project is to give teachers and students alike a better place to work and learn. The existing building was built in three different phases, each about twenty years apart. I was able to access the existing drawings from each phase of construction, each one from a different firm, different state and each about twenty to thirty years apart. It was a great experience to read beautifully hand-drafted blue prints, hand-drafted drawings on regular white paper and computer generated construction documents.
Survey Page Example
In order to actually improve the conditions at Mountain Home High School, evidence referring to the dissatisfaction and inadequacies of the building itself needed to be gathered. To gather evidence, a survey of the current MHHS faculty was conducted through the use of Qualtrics, a program provided by Utah State University. It was a simple question and answer survey, asking about room numbers, subjects taught, materials needed to teach, perceived inadequacies and elements of the building that are preferable. This picture is an example of a survey question and answers from about twenty teachers and administrators in total.
For one area of tenant improvement, the most inaccessible areas of the buildings were the entrances and the exits. Only two ramps could be found on opposite sides of the building. The tenant improvement specifies the addition of two ramps on two other entrances without them, and the upgrade of those ramps that are existing. Railings were installed and the general flow of the existing stairs in regards to the ramps were also addressed. Having adequate ingress and egress is crucial in emergency and in general circulation between classes or before and after the occupied hours of the day.
The application of evidence-based design began with an overall improved exterior - including a gray wash for the existing brick to strengthen the building’s appearance, new windows to let more light in, awnings to bounce light up into the classrooms instead of down, and protective glazing to allow light in but still maintain privacy and downplay outside distraction (passing traffic and pedestrians). The abundance of light being let in was countered with new and improved roller shades throughout each room, in order to allow maximum occupant control - for instance, sunlight affecting the visibility of a projector screen.
Lighting is also an issue in the building. Fluorescent lighting exists throughout the entire building, which does not improve the situation. In order to remedy these issues, the plaster removal and addition of clerestory windows between classrooms and hallways will allow for sunlight to flow throughout the hallways. This too will save on electricity costs. Instead of existing fluorescent lighting, LED linear lighting in the ceiling, pendant lighting and on surface task lighting have been incorporated throughout all classrooms, hallways and offices. LED lighting is better for inhabitants’ health and reduces strain when working closely on computer screens, on paper, with shop machines or lab chemicals.
Mountain Home High School’s school colors are black, grey, orange and white. Currently, a sad stripe of orange is the only color that exists on the walls and in the VCT tile on the floor. Staying consistent with the school colors while still adding color interest in an aesthetically pleasing way was a challenge. The colors orange and yellow were found to give a happy, jovial feeling - emotions that are lacking in school buildings in general (just ask any student).
To combat the “all white with some orange” nature of the existing conditions, a complementary color scheme based around a dark, stimulating orange was selected for the majority of the building. The rest of the color scheme consisted of a deep maroon-red, a peach tone, a blue-green and a very light, neon green-blue (see below). Based on a study conducted with participants of the International Association of Color Consultants seminars throughout the early 1990s, it was discovered and confirmed that the colors blue, blue-green and green have a peaceful, tranquil effect on the brain. Peace and tranquility is important to include in a place of learning - especially one filled with teenagers (just ask any teacher).