Wichita North High School Addition and Renovation
Wichita North High School is a historic 1929 building on a prominent river front site. The original Art Deco structure was designed by architect Glen H. Thomas and its facade was decorated by sculptor Bruce Moore.
The school’s auditorium is a true, local gem. Overlooked for decades and in a state of neglect, it was clear that an interior restoration and renovation was necessary. The primary goal was to provide a significantly improved audience and performance experience. Additionally, the renovation improved accessibility for persons with disabilities and remediated asbestos-containing building materials.
The old design, modified in piecemeal over decades, suffered from poor acoustic performance and undesirable aesthetic appeal. The solution was to not only improve acoustic performance but incorporate the acoustic design with the architecture. Newly redesigned baffles on the sidewalls provide visual interest, appropriate scale, and greatly improved acoustic performance. Other sound dampening or sound deflecting materials were cleverly integrated in areas where they are visually inconspicuous to audience members.
New, updated technology further enhanced the audience experience. The stage, orchestra pit and rigging equipment were replaced back-of-house, while new lighting and audio equipment was installed throughout the seating area. The original Art Deco light fixtures were restored and cleaned, providing brilliant light quality where it used to be dull and dingy. The old ceiling, soiled by water and cigarette smoke damage, was repaired and painted to give back its former luster. Finally, every seat was replaced with a custom design featuring North High?s signature red and a raised “N” on the aisle side.
The outcome of the restoration and renovation achieved every one of the school’s goals and more. The end product is a historic auditorium capable of hosting any high quality student performance.
The athletics addition for the North High Redskins demanded particular attention paid to the original detailing: an eccentric mosaic of Native American motifs and intricate patterns present across the entire facade. This concept heavily influenced design elements of the interior as well, particularly in the new gym space. Murals decorate the walls of the gym and patterns adorn the bleachers with cues taken from Bruce Moore’s design. The foyer through which fans and visitors arrive is a bright, welcoming space with a timeless, historic character.
In total, the 58,000 square foot addition also included a competitive aquatics center, a wrestling room that serves as the primary storm shelter and new locker rooms that double as a secondary storm shelter. Some minor renovation work was also included. A new all-weather turf track and field was added to the site. Shortly after opening, North High hosted a “Touch the Turf” event to invite parents, students and community members to walk and play on the new turf field, which was the school’s first completed bond issue project.
Wichita USD 259 Superintendent, John Allison, said, “I commend the passion, commitment and investment made by each [SJCF] team member…Our community can be proud of the uncompromised quality and design for the project at North High School.”