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Who is serving on the Design Advisory Group?

The DAG is a group of ten committed volunteers who are meeting weekly to create the vision and priorities for our new campus and collaborate on them with Studio B | Cuningham. Those who signed up to serve are:

  • Jeffie Butler, ACS parent and Compass board member
  • Lara Deyarmond, ACS parent
  • Jim Gilchrist, Principal
  • Deborah Jones, former ACS parent and teacher, founder Wyly Community Art Center*
  • Jason LaPointe, ACS parent and Construction Executive Committee member
  • Erica Murray, ACS alumni and parent
  • Melanie Muss, ACS parent and Compass board president
  • Lynn Nichols, former ACS parent and librarian
  • Marci Peters, ACS parent
  • Greg Pickrell, CCS parent and Compass board member
  • Skye Skinner, Compass executive director

* Rotated off

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Who is on the Project and Design Teams?

The Project and Design Teams, which were selected by unanimous vote, bring 78 years in business and dozens of prestigious awards, to their collaboration with us on ACS’s new campus:

Consilium Partners, project manager

Studio B | Cuningham, design team

Evans Chaffee, general contractor

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Since the architects are the ones who designed Aspen Middle School, will our school look like that?

To quote our executive director and Design Team in stereo: “Absolutely not!” All good architecture is contextual. That is, it refers and responds to its context. The Middle School design reflects what the Aspen School Board wished for, and the site demanded. These factors — unique to each project — will come into play at our school as well, with our vision and setting. The Design Team is especially excited to work on a project as singular and full of character as this one and to deliver a product that reflects this community.

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How did you select the project manager and design team?

After we earned the BEST grant from the Colorado Department of Education that made ours a viable project, we also received support from the State in the form of guidance on best practices in our selection process for project manager and architect. These guidelines have been developed through the State’s five years and 315 public school rebuilding projects since the BEST granting program was established in 2008.

Following this advice, we moved forward with finding the ideal team through a process that was formal, rigorous, and competitive. Here is an overview of the process:

For each of the two positions, ACS published a “Request for Proposals/Qualifications” in a variety of public outlets (local newspapers, the Colorado Department of Education’s list serve, an email announcement to our 900+ digital community members, a school e-newsletter, and the I Believe ACS campaign website). Two volunteer selection committees were developed, one for each open position. The school received 13 proposals for project manager and nine for architect, each of which was individually reviewed by the relevant committee members. Following this study period, the selection committees gathered to discuss the proposals and select by consensus a short list of four candidates to proceed onto the final stage of interviews. At the end of the interview day, the committee deliberated the merits of each proposal against criteria that included: profile in the field, qualifications, staffing, approach, experience, and high-performance design. To objectively sort the architectural candidates and provide structure for their discussions, the committee members used a common ranking sheet.

The selection by each committee was unanimous, as were the two ratifications by the Compass board of directors. In July, the board awarded the project management contract to Consilium Partners and, in August, the architectural design contract to Studio B | Cuningham. The project managers participated as non-voting members in the selection of the architect.

This entire process was made possible by 538 ACS staff and volunteer hours dedicated to selecting the team that would be the absolute best fit for our unique school. Thank you to our selection committee members who so generously shared their time and wisdom over the summer:

    • Bart Axelman, ACS parent
    • Lee Bryant, ACS parent
    • Jim Gilchrist, Principal
    • Colleen Kanada, Consilium Partners * ✦
    • Matt Lamm, ACS parent
    • Scott Newell, BEST *
    • Lynn Nichols, Alumni parent
    • Martin Pearson, Compass financial advisor
    • Elizabeth Parker, Aspen School Board member
    • Chris Penney, Consilium Partners * ✦
    • Greg Pickrell, Compass board member and CCS parent
    • Skye Skinner, Compass executive director

* Non-voting members
✦ Participant in selection of Architect only

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Why aren’t all members of the design team local?

As has been previously noted, after we earned the BEST grant, we also received guidance from the State on best practices in our selection process for the design team. One of BEST’s key recommendations was that the school specifically not limit its selection in any way, such as criteria for how local the candidates were or what relationship they might have to the school. Rather, BEST places a priority on finding the ideal fit and qualifications for our project, regardless of provenance or connection. We embrace this philosophy, at the same time as we believe in supporting the local economy and talent pool. We are currently developing guidelines for construction hiring that will further address these issues.

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With so many talented architects in our immediate school family, how did we end up with a firm with no connection to the school?

We couldn’t agree with you more – there was an extraordinary amount of talent that turned out for both the project management and architectural design positions. We were wowed by the candidates across the board. Of course, this made selecting the teams an extremely competitive process.

As noted above, the criteria for selection was to find the best fit and qualifications for our project, without limiting our search to any one trait such as history with ACS. That being said, the design team who won the contract, Studio B | Cuningham, does not lack in connection to the school. Founded in Aspen in 1991, Studio B has deep roots in the valley. In addition to leading the design of our new campus, they are the architects for a neighbor. As such, they have several years of knowledge about this mesa, as well as a connection to this particular piece of land. They have also realized designs for two other schools in our district, the Aspen Middle School and the renovation of the Aspen Elementary School.

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