This past week I sat in on the borough’s Architectural Review Board (ARB) public selection interviews with the top four architectural-engineering (AE) teams competing to design and build the new Kodiak High School. Then, on Wednesday, the ARB met in public session, ranked the AE teams from first to last, and forwarded their recommendation to the Kodiak Island Borough for final selection. At the end of the day, the consensus was that whatever team was picked, they would do a good job.
Each of the AE firms had both educational specialists and architectural specialists on their teams. The purpose of the educational specialists was to partner with our local educators to determine Kodiak’s collective vision for what 21st century Kodiak education could or should be. And the architects would then be responsible for turning this vision into a physical reality. Some of the educational specialists were truly impressive: one was a nationally recognized figure who has lectured Congress and teaches the teachers. Another is both a teacher and architect who has worked in various countries, in multicultural environments, and is now in charge of setting the educational specifications for the state of Alaska. A third team also had impressive educational specialists, while the fourth team’s educational specialist has worked with schools in Washington state and was an enthusiastic, ebullient speaker — although he had not heretofore partnered with his architectural counterpart, so this was a new relationship.
Following their meeting on Wednesday, the ARB recommended as their No. 1 choice (five out of seven votes) the team they judged to have the best architectural package and likely could come in with the lowest cost. As to how school board members would have ranked the various teams’ educational specialists, we’ll never know, as school board representation at the interviews was sparse.
Before accepting the ARB’s (architecture-based) recommendation, however, maybe the borough, along with the high school teaching staff, should ask the various teams’ educational specialists (only) to return for a final interview; for after all, primarily the school is here for the academics – not the building process.