Cleveland Board of Education members approved Upland Design as the architectural firm to create and oversee the demolition of the Raider Dome and construction of a new gymnasium.
Site Committee chairman Dr. Murl Dirksen explained the firm’s understanding of the construction process with the city school system due to previous work completed on Cleveland High was a major factor in the decision.
Upland Design was responsible for the design and subsequent construction of the high school’s new science wing.
The firm will also be working with the school system on the new elementary school.
Architect Brian Templeton of Upland Design will be working on both projects with the city schools.
Director of City Schools Dr. Martin Ringstaff reiterated the Raider Dome and the new elementary school are separate projects. The two will not be financed from the same pool of money. Discussions continue as the City Council determines where the money will come from.
Cleveland High’s Raider Dome was shut down late November by city school administrators. The school board voted to approve the shutdown at its Dec. 2 meeting. Both decisions were based on a survey completed by Bennett & Pless Inc. which highlighted the Dome’s lack of structural integrity.
According to President Rex Pless, factors like wind strength, snow or ice could all impact the tenuous stability of the dome.
The Dome’s lack of structural integrity was first noted through the increased number of cracks in both the inner masonry wall and exterior brick veneer. School officials in turn hired Bennett & Pless Inc. A portion of the Dome’s wall facing the football field has also begun to bulge outward. A barrier has been placed along one side of the Dome to block pedestrian traffic.
Ringstaff said Templeton is eager to begin work as soon as possible.
Director of Maintenance and Transportation Hal Taylor explained any demolition will need to be carefully done due to infrastructure concerns. For example, the school’s water controls and hot water heaters are located in the basement of the Dome. Taylor said as soon as school is out, significant work will need to be completed on the project.
Teachers, students and classes have already been moved to other areas of the school. Approximately 300 to 400 students used the dome and the basement every period prior to the shutdown. Principal Autumn O’Bryan reported the last empty classroom has now been filled.
“We are certainly tightening up,” O’Bryan said in a recent interview.
O’Bryan reported both staff and students have taken the transition in stride. Basketball games are currently being played at either Cleveland Middle School’s gym or local arenas like the one at Lee University.
Additional information on the future plans for the Raider Dome will be discussed at the Jan. 22 site committee meeting.