Osceola School District picks Little to design STEM high school in NeoCity

Osceola School District picks Little to design STEM high school in NeoCity
The emphasis on collaboration and connection to outdoor space, illustrated here in the NeoCity master plan, will be incorporated into the design of the Neovation Academy STEM school. (Perkins+Will)

The School District of Osceola County has tapped Little Diversified to bring its expertise in energy-efficient and net-zero design to the new STEM high school on the NeoCity campus.

The school board is expected to award the $904,697 contract on Tuesday. Little beat out two other firms that were shortlisted to design the $15 million demonstration high school. The school will be constructed directly across from the BRIDG campus in the NeoCity high-tech research park. Phase 1 will be designed to accommodate 500 students.


Purchasing Director Cheryl Jessee told GrowthSpotter the new "Neovation Academy" will be unlike any other school in Osceola County, because the district requested a high-performance, solar-ready building with the ability to achieve Zero Energy/Net Positive results.

Project manager Philip Donovan, who joined Little six months ago, specializes in that line of work. One of the first decisions is how to orient the building on the site to allow for natural light while including shade structures to prevent glare and reduce cooling costs.

"We know it's getting more expensive to build schools and maintain those schools," he said. "So building a high-performance school is a way to reduce costs in the long run. We had a unique opportunity here in the Sunshine State to design an immersive learning environment and couple it with a high-performance building."

The 45,000-square-foot building would house classrooms, maker spaces and labs that offer flexibility and space for collaboration. The Sextant Group will serve as a subcontractor to design the advanced audiovisual and IT capabilities, as well as the building security system.

"Every space in the school is meant to be flexible and adaptable and be utilized to its fullest extent," Donovan said.

The building won't have a cafeteria -- instead the district plans to bring food trucks to the campus. "They want to emphasize outdoor dining as a part of the whole NeoCity experience," Jessee said.

It also won't have a gym, Donovan said. "If you want to get into sports, you're going to go to another school," he said. "This is a choice school for kids who want to get into engineering."

The district is developing a curriculum that focuses on advanced manufacturing, biomedical engineering and cyber security. The five-acre campus will be designed for future expansion, including a second, 45,000-square-foot classroom building.

The first set of drawings are due on Feb. 9 to meet a construction start date of Sept. 3. The building should be completed by September 2019.

The district's selection committee met Wednesday with four finalists for the Construction Manager At Risk (CMAR) contract and will recommend Gilbane Building Company to the school board.

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