Platt High School project manager sees light at the end of the tunnel

Photo courtesy Meriden Record Journal: Dave Zajac
David Cravanzola, project manager from O&G Industries, Inc. in Torrington describes the layout of a new media center at Platt High School Wednesday, July 30. The room extends 30 feet from the building's face, and will include more collaborative work stati
August 3, 2014

With the new school year quickly approaching, construction crews are working on a tight deadline to finish a new wing of Platt High School, though O&G Industries Project Manager David M. Cravanzola said last week that they’re on track to finish in time.

“We should turn this over by the second or third week of September,” Cravanzola said, surveying the work from the Torrington-based company’s mobile office on site. Assistant School Superintendent Michael Grove explained that the completion date gives staff about a week to move into the new building before students occupy it.

To the average passerby, the deadline might appear to present a daunting task; the new wing was only hooked up to permanent power halfway through July, construction equipment is scattered through the front of the school, and though new masonry and windows adorn the walls facing Coe Avenue, inside, crews work to assemble sets of lockers, hook up wireless Internet connections and do other electrical work. Cravanzola’s confident it will get done, though.

He’s added Saturday shifts, and for a few weeks also added a second shift during the day, to complete the nearly 80,000-square-foot first phase.

“Our major hurdle was getting the doghouses hooked up,” he said, referring to long structures on the roof that are tightly packed with utilities cables.

Visible from the bus loop at the front of the school, the narrow structures contain more than 8,000 feet of piping, and are “the umbilical cord” to the new building, Cravanzola said.

Of course, there needs to be something to power. Set to be complete by mid-September are two floors totaling 16 classrooms, lavatories, a new media center, band and choral rooms, as well as various preparation and storage rooms.

When the School Building Committee approved funding for furniture, fixtures and equipment in the new high schools, Fletcher Thompson representative Kate Ryan explained that classrooms will include an interactive white board, projector, charging station for mobile devices, as well as tables and chairs rather than desks with chairs connected.

And while that’s not difficult to imagine, by Wednesday, most rooms included little more than cabinets, and all were awaiting a final fire marshal inspection before drop-ceilings would be added.

Windows in each roughly 750-square-foot classroom provided ample natural light, and Cravanzola explained that the building included “smart” features, such as sensors that automatically dim or brighten lights based on how much sunlight was coming in.

Another new addition in the setup of these classrooms included the addition of a separate teacher preparation room.

Grove explained that though teachers only hold classes during five of the seven periods per day, the classrooms would be utilized for six or seven periods daily.

This means that teachers will rotate through classrooms, so the new building calls for a room specifically designed for teachers to use during periods when they’re not in the classrooms.

Four science labs, close to 1,000 square feet each, are also included in the first phase. Cabinets lined the walls, and lab tables were already in place in these rooms.

Large ensemble band and choral rooms also neared completion in the new building. Cravanzola said that acoustic measures such as special door jambs, as well as angled walls were included to improve sound quality in the rooms.

Perhaps the most salient aspect of the new building, however, is the glass-walled media center, which extends 30 feet from the face of the building, and is visible from Coe Avenue.

The plan for the media center is to make it a more collaborative study environment, Ryan explained at a February School Building Committee meeting.

Computers, round tables, and comfortable chairs, as well as about 50 percent of the books in the school’s former library will furnish the room.

“It’s going to feel like a college campus; like the library at a college,” Grove said Wednesday.

And though the wall-to-wall windows currently look out over part of the construction site, Cravanzola said there will be grass growing and planters in place by the time the media center is occupied.

The school’s natatorium is scheduled to be completed by about November, Cravanzola said. Currently, while Platt’s pool is under construction, both Platt and Maloney students share the Maloney pool.

The completion of Platt’s in November will clear the way for construction on Maloney’s pool.

Of the school building’s September deadline, Cravanzola said Thursday, “Things are looking very good for September. Working with the school system has been great, and we’re in good shape for September.”