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US

DEVELOPERS JOURNAL

Summer 2009

www.usdevelopersjournal.com

WALLER, TODD & SADLER ARCHITECTS INC. A Legacy of Modernization

THE MAGAZINE FOR CONSTRUCTION EXECUTIVES


Waller, Todd & Sadler Architects Inc.

A Legacy of Modernization By Robin Lasher In Virginia Beach, as all over the US, 12-year-olds spend their free hours on computers, iPods, and smartphones. Information flows faster than ever. The future is now and possibilities are endless … except at the most unlikely of places: a school. At Great Neck Middle School in Virginia Beach, originally used as a high school, outdated facilities could not meet the needs of today’s middle schoolers. Leaks, constant maintenance and inflexible building conditions - coupled with the existing school being undersized required a number of portables to also be added to the site, thus adding to the urgency to renew. It was tough to stay stimulated when walking into school feels like taking a big step backwards, so the city of Virginia Beach decided to do something about it. Enter the architectural firm of Waller, Todd & Sadler (WTS).

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“It’s an extremely well-presented building for the cost,” observes William Schwegler, chief operating officer of the firm. Indeed, the new Great Neck Middle School building is being constructed for a third less than was originally projected, with total costs now reaching about $35 million. Good news for the Virginia Beach School Board, and good news for the students. This stimulating and functional learning environment, designed with high standards of sustainability, will make Great Neck Middle School one of the most modern schools in the area. The choice of Waller, Todd & Sadler was an easy one for the Virginia Beach School Board. The firm, founded in 1956, has a long history of completing municipal work in the area. WTS even designed the first City Hall after Virginia Beach was incorporated in the ’60s. WTS has since created a strong


niche in educational design and planning, having designed or modernized many schools in the Hampton Roads area and beyond. In 2007, the firm, together with a joint venture partner, received the Virginia School Board’s Distinguished Design Award for its work on Grassfield High School in Chesapeake, with special notice of its use of energy efficient technology. Life’s a Virginia Beach for Innovative Design Fans When considering what to do with Great Neck Middle School, the first step for Waller Todd & Sadler was to decide if the old structure could be refurbished. “We did a modernization study for this school, along with many other schools, and found the cost to remodel versus the cost to build new … It was just a little more to build new and you

might as well have something for the next 50 years rather than modernizing it for just a limited lifetime,” explains Schwegler. The existing school will remain operational until the new school is completed, with students matriculating in the old building during construction. The new building is notable for its high standards of sustainability. Waller, Todd & Sadler have designed an impressive three-story academic wing with daylighting. The plans implemented solar water boiler preheat, rainwater harvesting for water closets, high efficiency HVAC systems, day lighting, pervious and reflective pavement, reflective roofing, biogardens to treat site rainwater runoff and athletic fields with irrigation from rainwater recovery. When completed, the school should qualify for LEED Gold certification.

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In addition, Great Neck Middle School will flaunt innovative spaces to best suit the students’ needs. The media center is centralized on the second floor with nearby computer labs and production studio. A two-story mall of exploratory classrooms acts as a center of activity between the academic spaces and the larger assembly/public spaces. Most notable is the “auditoria,” an auditorium/cafeteria hybrid designed to switch roles with ease. The “auditoria” idea, including the name itself, was coined by the client. WTS was happy to bring that vision to reality. This high-performance educational facility is being created to achieve optimum student and faculty performance. Much of the firm’s innovative designs are sparked by serving the needs of its clients. A modern, sustainable building was important to the Virginia Beach School Board, and WTS

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strive to meet and exceed demands. The firm is an eager participant in the green building boom, staying current by attending conferences and seminars on new building practices and materials. WTS wants to stay ahead of the curve and be one of the architectural leaders of sustainable building. In Virgina Beach attractive design is not just a matter of client approval, but of community pride. Great Neck Middle School faces a busy four-lane highway on one side, but it also abuts a residential area. “The building was designed so it was lower nearer to the residential area and taller in the center so we didn’t overpower the residences,” Schwegler reveals. In this way, the design of the school nicely complements the residential character of the neighborhood.


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It’s this kind of community pride paired with innovative design that keep projects floating the way of WTS, even in the economic downturn. “We know the market is down right now,” says Schwegler. “We’ve been fortunate to maintain a good project listing and workload and we’re hoping to maintain that and continue to look for opportunities where other people may not see them.” Many of their projects come via repeat clients, like school boards and local municipalities. The key, says Schwegler, “is delivering accurate and concise documents that meet the clients needs, stay within budget and still present a good aesthetic design.”

amount of Department of Defense work to combat the recession. In addition to creating a niche with municipal buildings and schools, WTS has a strong background with the DOD. These projects, for command centers and other military buildings, take the architects around the globe to places as varied as Qatar, the Caribbean and Bulgaria. “We’re very proud of our military work,” admits Schwegler. “We’re doing some very interesting and high-profile work that has significant impact on how our military is capable of operating.” Other military projects are slightly closer to home, like a command center and fitness center at Langley AFB, Hampton, Va.

A Campaign of Excellence

Military, School and Community. Modern, functional design and high-performance sustainability. Waller, Todd & Sadler stands out because of a commitment to core values, and a

The Virginia Beach area is fortunate to have a considerable

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passion for innovative planning. The Virginia Beach School Board trusts the firm to design the stimulating education facility that’s been dreamed about. Come fall 2011, the students of Great Neck Middle School can boast about attending one of the region’s most modern schools, and Waller Todd & Sadler can take pride in the completion of another successful project. ▪

COMPANY AT A GLANCE Founded : 1956 WT& SA Inc. Members : 30 COO : William Schwegler

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Waller, Todd & Sadler Architects Inc.

Winter 2009

1909 Cypress Avenue Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451 U n i t e d S tat e s www.wtsarch.com

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WALLER, TODD & SADLER ARCHITECTS INC. THE MAGAZINE FOR CONSTRUCTION EXECUTIVES A L egAcy of M odernizAtion Summer 2009 www.usdevelopersj...

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