This fall DeLaSalle High School will begin the largest, most expensive construction project it’s undertaken in more than 50 years.
The multimillion dollar renovation and expansion will create a number of new video-centric learning spaces and relocate the school’s outdated, oversized locker rooms.
“The delivery of education has changed so that the traditional classroom has taken on a new shape, and we want to modernize our campus to respond to that,” said DeLaSalle President Barry Lieske. “We’ve gone to the cloud, so to speak. Teachers don’t teach at the front of the classroom with a blackboard and chalk anymore, they teach at the back of the classroom with projectors while students use their tablets to do research and take notes.”
Lieske declined to provide the project’s budget, other than to say it was the biggest since the school’s ‘A Building’ was built in 1959.
Beginning this fall, the first phase of the project will address deferred maintenance, including upgrades to the building’s heating and electrical systems. Next spring ground will be broken on an addition in the back of the school that will house new, smaller locker rooms and video facilities shared by different departments and athletic programs.
“Now our coaches are using a lot of film as a training tool, so we’re going to build a lot of that into this new space,” said Lieske. “And student-athletes don’t like to shower at school any more, so these big shower rooms that are for 60 guys at a time, they’re just not used anymore.”
After the new locker rooms are built, the old locker rooms in the front of the school will be repurposed into collaborative, tech-focused learning spaces. Lieske said he hopes the whole project will be completed by fall 2016.
The addition will level out a dip in the back of the building where the loading dock is. The loading dock and a small maintenance garage nearby may have to be relocated to accommodate the addition.
“It’s a tight fit and it’s going to be delicate work, but rather than losing green space on either end of our campus we’re going to squeeze it in the middle,” said Lieske, who also noted the project will change the campus’s linear foot traffic into a more circular pattern.
Board members on the Nicollet Island East Bank Neighborhood Association were enthusiastic when they heard a presentation from Lieske at the July 17 meeting, voting unanimously to support the project.