DRC gets first look at new Bragg Elementary

Plans offer sneak peek at designs for upgraded facility

By John Rech news@theeveningtimes.com

A new Bragg elementary school is on the drawing board. West Memphis School District unrolled design drawings for the City of West Memphis Design Review Commission. Ladd Geary presented plans by ETFC Architects to City Planner Paul Luker and commissioners Thursday afternoon at City Hall. With the unveiling of the new plans, DRC Chairman Frank Martin noted he had seen Bragg come full circle. He was their when the existing building opened. Martin remembered waiting out part of second grade to move into Bragg during 1951-52 school year. “We had an old storage building in the Hulbert School parking lot. They had to clean it out for us to do second grade while they were getting Bragg ready,” said Martin. “But, we were the first ones in there. Brand new!” After waxing nostalgic Martin called for the plans and looked to the future. The architect laid out the 72,000 square foot kindergarten through sixth grade school building designed for 575 students. “The new facility will go in the empty lot facing Redding Street,” said Geary. “Bus pick up will be on the north side. Everything will be accessed off of Redding except the bus. We’re removing the front building as part of this project.” The contemporary design highlights included lots of glass under soaring single sloped roof finished with an earth tone color pallet. A gym at the elementary schools is part of the plan. Builders will preserve as much of the mature landscape in the area as possible. “The building will be block and bar joist construction with a brick veneer on it, metal roof, a lot of glass to bring in natural light into all the classrooms,” said Geary. “It has a cafeteria. It is just a bigger building.” A bigger Bragg is just what the school district needs. “It has some extra capacity designed into it,” said City Engineer and School Board Member Phillip Sorrell. “Right now we are at capacity with 490 students.” Bragg utilized temporary classrooms this year. The new building is sure to attract some Minority Move students. “We built two extra classrooms,” said Geary. “The principal thinks as soon as it opens it will be filled.” West Memphis School District Business Manager Bill Cook later confirmed the expected cost for the new elementary grade building. “It will cap at $14 million dollars,” said Cook. “We saved some expense because we already own the lot. We expect to be moving in by July 2017.”

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