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The following article was written by Douglas D. Ellington after the construction of the Senior High School of Asheville, North Carolina.
Ellington, D. (1929). The new senior high school of asheville, north carolina. The architectural record, 3(66). 193-203.
"The erection of the new senior high school building of Asheville constitutes the first step in a comprehensive program which has as its ultimate objective the creation of a municipal college.
The general site consists of fifty acres of luxuriant woodland located directly between Asheville and the outlying district of Biltmore. About this property new boulevards has been developed, making it directly accessible from the city. The property itself consists of two balanced eminences divided by a natural meadowland or flattened ravine. The eminence to the right of the principal approach to the property was selected as the site for the first group, the senior high school unit, the other eminence being allotted to a future junior college division. A stadium and athletic field are to occupy the broad portion of the ravine and at the narrow point of the ravine a bridge-like structure houses the central heating plant and provides a bridge approach to the site for the future junior college. Another natural depression, adjacent to the auditorium wing of the high school building, is to be developed as an open air theatre. Ultimately an administrative building will be placed near the front center of the general property.
The initial step in solving the architectural problem was the preparation of a plaster model of the general property and approaches, followed by plaster blocks scaled to parallel the floor and area requirements of the high school program, which had been analyzed exhaustively under combined study between school officials and architect, with Dr. N.L. Engelhardt, Teachers College, Columbia University, as chief adviser. These plaster blocks, in mobile units, were then studied for assemblage, the architectural idea being to combine these sub-units in such a was as to secure symmetry and coordination or requirements and location without disturbing the natural earth slopes any more than absolutely necessary. Following this, usual preliminary plans and elevations were prepared, and these again were made the subject of careful review between the school officials and the designer. The final plans embraced anticipatory provision for doubling the capacity of the high school plant without architectural and practical inconsistencies.
A very happy asset in the evolution of the design was the availability of a beautiful and unusual local granite known as "Balfour Pink," quarries near the adjoining city of Salisbury, North Carolina. The photographs show how the rubble run of this granite was selected and laid, the spandrel features being made up of ordinary paving blocks of this same material. The color of the granite runs from cream through a gray to a rich pink, the general effect of the finished surfaces, laid in random shades, being a warm clay pink of brilliance and richness. The entire structure is roofed in tile of a deep variegated heather tone which harmonizes splendidly with the walls. In the central tower bands of tawny Airedale brick and blocks of ordinary rust-toned terra cotta flue lining are introduced for contrast. The ornamental seal of Asheville is introduced in the main face of the tower by brilliantly colored tiles. the principal flaggin in this structure is in some areas Mount Airy white granite and in other areas slate-like slabs of an easily quarried, orange-colored stone which crops forth in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. All exterior gates, grilles and lighting fixtures are iron of natural finish. All road paving is pink granite.
The interior of the rotunda is finished in Airedale brick with checkerboard pattern of alternate Airedale brick and light orange-colored smooth brick. The dedication tablet, lighting fixtures and other metal features in this area are natural bronze. The floor of this area consists of dull red hexagon quarry tiles. The interior finish throughout the high school is gray putty tone for the walls with stained woodwork harmonious with the wall tones. The circulation corridors are floored in terrazzo and the classrooms in maple. all furnishings, lockers and other equipment are finished to conform to their surroundings.
Leading away at angles from the rotunda are the three main elements of the building, and auditorium wing which has a cafeteria below, and two academic wings. At the ends of the academic wings are the vocational laboratories, workshops, and gymnasiums. Each wing has a separate outside entrance as well as connecting passages, thus providing direct and easy circulation.
Surrounding the tower on the fourth floor is the department of music, with a large room for orchestra and band practice, and three smaller studios. The main auditorium, seating two thousand students, has a completely equipped stage and all facilities for dramatic presentations. On the main floor between the two academics wings, facing the west court and opposite the auditorium wing, are the administrative offices. Above is a spacious library flanked on either side with study halls. Nearby are the student activities rooms, providing for the various organizations of the school, grouped about a small auditorium adaptable for class meetings, debates, and similar functions. Two gymnasiums are located at the end of the front academic wing. One, on the ground floor in the physical education department, is for boys and for interscholastic games and has a gallery that seats fifteen hundred spectators. On the second floor is another gymnasium exclusively for girls. Below the ground floor are showers, dressing rooms, lockers, and a reception room for visiting players. The vocational training department and laboratories are grouped at the rear of the second academic wing. In the manual arts building there is a printing shop with job presses and full equipment for teaching the fundamentals of hand composition; also electrical laboratories, metal and wood working shops, chemical and physical laboratories, mechanical shops and domestic science rooms.
All fire risks have been eliminated from the building. The structure is fire-proof, type A construction under the fire laws, and at each stair landing open to air but protected from the weather by glass-louvred windows. Direct steam radiation is employed, and direct ventilation and counter-balanced windows are used throughout. Down-feed heat pipes passing over vent ducts in the attic areas create a continuous and efficient gravity ventilation.
There are sixty school rooms in the plant. The pupil capacity is two thousand. The total cost including the site and furnishings was approximately one million dollars. The cost of the construction was thirty-two cents a cubic foot.
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