1515 West 23rd Street Hazelton, Pennsylvania 18202
As part of a comprehensive facilities evaluation for this district, rehabilitation of this former high school (abandoned for more than 10 years) was identified as an expedient and cost-effective option to address rapid student population growth. From the project’s inception, a construction manager was retained to facilitate the fast-track design and construction process. Both before and after bid, extensive value-engineering exercises were undertaken to adjust for discovered conditions and for comprehensive depth in project scope. Subsequently, change orders actually decreased the overall anticipated project cost. Classrooms were enlarged to accommodate modern standards for room sizes as well as to incorporate new technologies. The school's lower level swimming pool was renovated into a cafeteria and kitchen space. Many of the buildings original features were damaged or destroyed during the years while the building remained vacant, including the two towers on either side of the main entrance, which were restored.
Impassioned by both the arts and restoration, McKissick Architecture rallied the local community (who beloved the old building), resulting in a surge of support by residents. Our firm then led the effort to establish a non-profit partnership with several arts organizations to restore the school’s 1,450-seat balconied theatre to its former glory. The proscenium’s gold leaf border was restored and grand Austrian curtain replaced. New seating, theatrical lighting, audio/video equipment, and stage rigging, completed the modernizations of the community’s performing arts center. Named the “Alice Wiltsie Performing Arts Center” within the Hazleton “Castle” School, the inaugural performance hosted iconic band, “Chicago.”