OAK HILL, W.Va. — The first week of school in Fayette County has been a big one with the opening of two new schools–both on the same campus in Oak Hill.

ZMM Architects & Engineers

David Ferguson

New River Primary and Oak Hill Middle School were designed by ZMM Architects & Engineers. ZMM’s Principal Architect David Ferguson tells MetroNews the buildings have the system’s educational goals in mind.

“We designed the buildings around that with a lot of user-friendly spaces and some STEM and STEAM spaces in the middle school. In the pre-K-2 facility, there’s a lot of hands-on spaces,” Ferguson said.

The new schools are on the same campus as Oak Hill High School, New River Intermediate and the county’s technical education center.

The school system has spent more than a year mapping out the logistics of getting that many students and parents on and off the sprawling campus, Fayette County School Superintendent Terry George recently told MetroNews.

“We’ve developed a new access for our buses. They will come through a private access road that we’ve built. We’ve developed a system for parents to drop students off at two other entrances,” George said. “If people follow the directions that we’ve sent out to them by email, mail and by radio ads, everything will work out real well. If someone doesn’t know the pattern there could be a real problem.”

Ferguson said there was some site preparation required for the two new schools. He said they’ve put the available space to good use.

The schools are joined through a corridor but the students don’t intermix. The connection helps save on utilities and makes best use of the land. Ferguson said he likes the brightness and openness of the design.

“The owner’s got a big push to make sure the interiors are kid-friendly and that they enjoy the space and that they want to come to school and be there,” Ferguson said Wednesday.

ZMM Architects & Engineers is also working on other projects in Fayette and Nicholas counties. The company has also designed the building in Kanawha County that will replace Bridge-Clendenin Elementary School. Clendenin Elementary was destroyed in the June 2016 flood.

Ferguson said there’s something satisfying about designing school buildings.

“We like to do schools. We love it. It’s really gratifying. It’s not just somebody walking in an office building going to work,” Ferguson said. “These kids are totally thrilled to see their new space and generally when you see some of the spaces they used to be in it’s a total transformation of the spaces that they learn in.”

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