Red iron beams tower more than 45 feet in the air, framing out the main administrative building of the new two-story Denham Springs Elementary School at Centerville Street and Range Avenue.
The site includes 200 feet of iron beams stretching to the north and the east to layout the main hallways and grade-level classroom areas. Construction workers recently began adding metal decking and installing the standing seam metal roof that will cover the 80,000-square-foot complex.
“This is a unique building that the community can be proud of," said Jim Ziler, owner/president of Ziler Architects, of Lafayette. "Not only will it feature the latest amenities and modern features that make buildings more efficient and safer, but it also will pay tribute to this community, complementing the nearby Historic District and capturing elements of the past schools that once stood here.”
The site of the new school was the original site of Denham Springs High School, which was an expansion from the community’s first schoolhouse on River Road. The high school on that site was destroyed by a fire in January 1950 and rebuilt two blocks north at its current location. The site then housed the elementary campus over the years.
Denham Springs Elementary is one of three parish schools that was substantially damaged by the August 2016 flood. The elementary school housed in a temporary campus next to Immaculate Conception Church in Denham Springs, at the end of Adoration Lane.
Superintendent Joe Murphy said school officials have worked with district and city officials, as well as community leaders, to optimize the new campus features. He said the architectural engineers reviewed old photos and gained input from past school personnel in formulating the new school design. Construction crews have also worked with members of Denham Green to save three of the large live oak trees on the property.
“All our schools are landmark institutions for the communities they serve. We recognize that our facilities are made up of more than brick and mortar; they are filled with rich stories, memories and traditions that lay a historic foundation for the progress and growth we’ve experienced as a parish and individual communities. It only makes sense, that as we build for the future, we remember those important qualities that got us to where we are today,” Murphy said.
Murphy said the newly designed school will include 32 regular education classrooms, five special education classrooms, two computer laboratories and open collaborative spaces throughout the campus to bring learning outside traditional classroom areas. It will also include a new library and cafeteria. The main entrance will feature a tiered seating area that can serve as a bus waiting area or accommodate small student assemblies. At the same time, the campus will have a more secure perimeter than before — there will only be one public entrance to the school; all other entrances will require keyed access.
Ziler said construction crews are on schedule to complete the new school for the fall semester. He said the work also remains on course for its projected $14.5 million budget.
Once the roofing is complete this month, workers will begin to erect walls and install the mechanical components of the facility, Ziler said. The project has remained on course despite the weather delays experienced last year, he said.
"And now, as it begins to take shape for all to see, it’s amazing to see and hear the positive feedback on this project. We believe it will be something this community, of all ages, will be proud of for years to come.”