(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) – MARCH 6, 2015 – Ajax Building Corporation marked the official “topping out” the extensive renovation to Douglas Anderson School of the Arts on March 5. The construction tradition celebrated the final steel beam being hoisted into place on the $13.5 million project, on schedule to be completed this summer.
A lunch was held to thank Ajax subcontractors who have finished the structural work — erecting steel, pouring concrete and laying block.
Students arriving on the nearly 100-year-old campus this fall will see portables replaced by a new two-story 61,520-square-foot building with 13 academic classrooms and seven state-of-the-art science labs. The project also includes a new 500-seat amphitheater and a 20,000-square-foot cafeteria with outdoor dining. It also will double as a community emergency shelter.
In addition, another 8,500-square-feet of space is being remodeled. The old cafeteria is being repurposed for use by musical theater students and will include a dance studio with dressing and storage rooms. Renovations are also being made to add a lighting and costume classroom, shop and computer lab. Science rooms will become general classrooms and upgrades will be made to the heating and air conditioning systems.
Bhide & Hall Architects of Orange Park designed the project. Those in attendance for the topping out included: Ajax President Bill Byrne; Duval County Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Paul Soares, Executive Director of Facilities Andy Eckert and Director of Maintenance Services Greg King; Douglas Anderson Principal Jackie Cornelius and Vice Principal Melanie Hammer.
Douglas Anderson is known for its competitive music program, bands, theater and other arts. The renovation will increase enrollment by 158 students, to a capacity of 1,327. Originally build in 1922, it opened as a magnet school of the arts in 1985.