FARR WEST — Officials on Friday broke ground for the new Wahlquist Junior High and plan to have the building ready for students by fall 2014.
If the new school’s basic shape looks familiar, you may have seen it before as you pass by Orion Middle School or South Ogden Junior High.
“The basic footprint is very similar, but it will have its own unique design and look,” said Jeff Stephens, Weber School District superintendent.
“They are schools that allow for a lot of natural light and a design that is energy efficient. When we’ve been able to utilize a basic footprint several times, we’ve been able to communicate strengths and areas for improvements to the architects.”
Wahlquist, being built at 2700 N. 2575 West, will be a little larger than South Ogden Junior High in order to accommodate 1,200 students, Stephens said.
The new Wahlquist will cost $18 million and replace the current school of the same name.
The new building will have additional classrooms and cafeteria space, Stephens said.
He said he expects Wahlquist enrollment to be about 1,100 when the school opens in fall 2014.
“We have a very aggressive construction schedule,” he said. “For a junior high of this size, it’s very aggressive.”
MHTN Architects, based in Salt Lake City, is the firm handling the project.
The current Wahlquist Junior High was built in 1942, said Stephens, who taught there earlier in his career.
“It’s a 70-year-old structure that was beginning to have significant infrastructure challenges and other issues in terms of its capacity, with electrical and all the new technology coming into schools today,” Stephens said.
“A structure designed 70 years ago wasn’t built to handle the kind of technology that is required today.”
The new Wahlquist is the first project to be funded by the $65 million bond school district voters approved in June.
The bond money — structured to become available in stages to avoid the need for a property tax increase — will help build five schools and update two existing buildings by fall 2016.