A large piece of art amidst the extensive renovation at Southside High School in Fort Smith is part of an effort to change the appearance of the “factory-like” main building at the high school.
The cost of the sculpture and surrounding area, which was designed by Fort Smith architect Tim Risley, is $13,000, according to information from the school district. The cost of the renovation of the high school — which includes new sidewalks, landscaping, lighting, parking lots — is around $2.6 million. The school district says 80% of the funds are federal stimulus dollars. Fort Smith-based SSI Inc. is installing new windows and landscaping, and Forsgren Inc. is renovating the parking lots.
When major renovations are made to school district buildings there is often an effort made to “enhance the appearance” with art or building design elements, according to a note from school spokeswoman Zena Featherston. Those enhancements typically cost 5% to 8% of the total project, Featherston explained.
Dr. Benny Gooden, superintendent of the Fort Smith Public School District, issued this statement: “When we began to plan the campus improvements including parking, lighting, drainage, ingress and egress, and improved landscaping, changing the appearance of the dated 1960’s ‘factory-like’ main building presented a challenge — especially in view of costs associated with a major facelift. When changing the window and door openings with energy efficient structures to present a new appearance, the architect was asked for something that would provide a focal point of interest — something distinctive to call attention to the campus. Tim Risley proposed a modern sculpture to address this need.”