New addition at Wilson Montessori K-8 to complement historic building

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Nearly three dozen parents and neighbors turned out to Wilson Montessori K-8 on Thursday to hear the latest updates on the proposed addition and renovations to the school under the district’s bond program.

The Montrose-area school is slated to receive $18.9 million, and will feature a new three-story addition, as well as renovations to the existing facility, built in 1924.

Terry Smith of Smith & Co. Architects walked the audience through the latest design concept, in which the three-story building addition will feature a two-story library space designed with large exterior windows so that students can “experience the outside from the inside.”

“You’re going feel like you’re in a tree fort,” added Meredith Reed, Smith & Company’s interior designer.

Other new features include a new replacement dining area that opens to the outside, flexible learning spaces, and a new bus loop off Windsor that has a covered canopy for students.

Fourth- through eighth-grade students would be housed on the third floor of the new building, which will expand the campus by nearly 58,000 square feet and eventually eliminate the need for temporary buildings. Smith said one of the design goals was to integrate the new construction with the existing building, as well as the surrounding neighborhood.

“We wanted to take advantage of the design aesthetic of the area,” he said. Regarding the existing 1920’s-era Wilson campus building, Smith noted, “We don’t want to match it but we want to respect it.”

The new building primarily features brick with stone accents and steel banding in a contrasting color to distinguish it from the original facility. The renovation work on that portion of the school will include creating a new secure entrance to the building, as well as renovations to the administration area, computer room and library.

On the second floor, the school’s existing small auditorium will be converted into two classrooms with flex space in the area that now serves as a stage. A new hallway will be constructed through the existing library to create a connection between the existing building and the new addition.

“Our team has been incredible about listening to what we need,” said Principal Beth Bonnette. In reviewing the construction schedule, Bonnette said work on the new addition would start this summer with the goal of not impacting instruction.

The entire project will be done in three phases and is expected to take about two years. This summer, the primary focus will be laying down a new 10-room modular building along the northwest area of the site. The contractor will then remove the existing temporary buildings and begin the site work for the new addition.

Renovation work will be done on the existing building during summer and winter breaks until the new addition is completed. Once the new addition areas are completed, the existing building’s dining and auditorium areas will be renovated into classroom spaces.

“I think it’s amazing, said Ivan Aguilar, the parent of a kindergarten student and an incoming pre-K student. “It’s going to be even more inspiring to have this new building.”

Shana Tatum, whose older son attended the school and whose younger one will be attending in the fall, also liked what she saw.

“I think they’ve done a great job of blending the styles together,” she said. “I like the choice of materials.”