BCSC chooses architect for new elementary

Carla Clark | For The Republic Meejin Yoon, at left, listens as Eric Howeler, of Howeler + Yoon, speaks during presentations by architecture firms vying to design Columbus Municipal Airportճ new air traffic control tower, hosted by The Landmark Columbus Foundation, at Helen Haddad Hall, Columbus, Ind., Monday, October 30, 2023.

Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. board members selected Boston-based Howeler+Yoon to design the new westside elementary school, a firm that will work alongside architecture firm of record CSO Architects on the project.

A committee of 16 people, made up of administrators, teachers and community members scored the four firms nominated by the Cummins Architecture Program—Howeler+Yoon, Snow Kreilich, SO-IL, Studio SUMO— based on metrics they developed after hearing about their design approach, team make-up and values. Each firm also submitted requests for proposals that were weighed during the deliberations.

The four firms came to Columbus for public presentations in March at Westside Community Church, just north of the 23 acres that will be home to the new elementary.

The committee discussed amongst themselves what they thought on April 4, follow-up interviews were conducted on April 6 and the group ultimately decided upon Howeler+Yoon.

BCSC Director of Operations Brett Boezeman said co-founding Principal Eric Howeler’s usage of “terms such as collaborator, synthesizer, the firm’s ability to be flexible, innovative” fell in line with what the committee was looking for.

“When I called and offered him the position, he was very excited and quite speechless for a moment. But I said, ‘Eric, when you had given your presentation at the church and you opened with speaking about designing a school through the eyes of a child, it really resonated with folks, really got people excited,’ so I’m happy with the committee’s recommendation.”

The Cummins Architecture Program will be funding Howeler+Yoon’s design.

Boezeman said there will be another committee formed to help take part in the design process.

The school corporation’s 12th elementary school, the first since Clifty Creek in 1982, will cost an estimated $60 million and is to accommodate the city’s continued expansion to the west and to the south. BCSC officials previously said approximately 650 students will attend the new school.

During the meeting the school board also approved Taylor Bros Construction and Pepper Construction as the construction manager as constructor on the project at a fixed fee of $1.5 million.

BCSC is spending $306 million as part of the Envision 2030 facilities plan on various renovations to schools across the district. The westside elementary is included of phase 1, alongside work to Northside Middle School, Columbus North High School, Columbus East High School, Smith Elementary, Mt. Health Elementary, the R.L Johnson building, and McDowell Education Center.

BCSC will be working with an outside consultant to help determine future boundary lines for the new elementary and other schools in 2025 and 2026. During that time officials will also be gathering input to help decide on enrollment balancing strategies.

A tentative date for announcing the new boundary lines is set for December 2026 and the new school is scheduled to open in August of 2027.