North Augusta High will score a new arena-style gymnasium, and Aiken High's Taylor gym will get a facelift during the next phase of construction at the schools.

Aiken County School Board members saw preliminary plans for the projects Jan. 22 at the Board's regular meeting.

North Augusta High's arena design will be “unique,” said Brad Smith of McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, which created the plans for the project.

North Augusta High School gym rendering NAHS gym interior 2

The new arena-style gymnasium at North Augusta High will be 12 feet lower than the building's main level.

The gymnasium floor will be 12 feet below the main level of the building.

“As you come in, you'll be able to see out over the seating and look down into the gymnasium, which is a little different than what you normally see in a high school gymnasium,” he said. “I think that in itself will make the space unique and not one that you see very often. There will be a lot of light. We feel like the space will be special.”

The building also will include an auxiliary gym, weight room and locker rooms and space for fine arts programs, including band and chorus, in about 70,000 square feet.

The preliminary budget estimate is $21 million, including design, construction and soft costs. Bids are expected to be accepted beginning in June, and construction could begin during the summer. Smith did not give a timetable for the new gymnasium and fine arts building to be finished.

The new gymnasium and fine arts building will replace the existing, original classroom building, which will be demolished this spring after the new classroom building opens likely in February.

The existing gym will be demolished after the new gymnasium is complete.

“I was able to take advantage of a tour in North Augusta and was just overly impressed with what I saw,” Board member Brian Silas said. “I look forward to seeing this phase completed. It really should set the benchmark and the model for what I hope we can do in our other schools.”

Renovations to Aiken High's Taylor gym would refresh the existing facility and expand seating to about 1,400, said Allen Taylor with LS3P architects, which is designing the project.

Aiken High Taylor gym rendering HS more exteriors

Renovations to the Taylor gymnasium will be part of the next phase of construction at Aiken High.

The initial plan also would repurpose existing locker rooms and music space as a dedicated space for wrestling; a training room to accommodate all sports; space for drama, dance or other programs; and a multipurpose room that could be used for team meetings.

The estimated initial budget is $8 million. Renovation could begin after the new auxiliary gym and classroom wing for band, music, culinary and ROTC are complete probably this spring.

Renovations to the Taylor gymnasium will not be the final phase of construction at Aiken High, Aiken County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Sean Alford said. Future plans include a new auditorium and renovations to the existing F wing building.

“Although we're moving into the Taylor gym as the next phase of the Aiken High School project, it is not the final phase,” Alford said. “There is still a phase that remains after that that will include the auditorium, and we've also committed to the community that we're going to go back and do some heavy renovations to the F building.”

Larry Wood covers education for the Aiken Standard.