AUBURN — The concept design for a new Edward Little High School is beginning to take shape.

At a meeting at Auburn Hall on Tuesday night, members of the ELHS Building Committee and architects from the Harriman design team’s local branch discussed designs for the proposed project at the site of the school at 77 Harris St.

Over the past year, the 14 Building Committee members visited schools in Massachusetts and Maine, seeking inspiration for the project. 

Mark Lee and Lisa Salwin, architects from Harriman, offered three potential concept designs to show the general placement of classrooms, staircases, libraries and gymnasiums. The most popular was one based around a large inner courtyard. 

“It can be a space that really enhances the building itself, the sense that you’re in a a space that’s both inside an outside,” Lee said. “It could become an outdoor learning space, with art and science classes.”

Apart from the bare bones of a design, priorities that emerged included a 1,200-seat auditorium for between $4.8 million and $8.7 million, and a new state-of-the-art athletic stadium for between $1.8 million and $2.3 million.

School Business Manager and committee member Adam Hanson said after three years, Westbrook High School’s 1,000-seat Performing Arts Center began to generate enough income to be self-sufficient.

A 1,200-seat auditorium, the committee said, would be a huge draw, compared to The Dolard & Priscilla Gendron Franco Center’s 428-seat space in Lewiston.

But following community feedback, a few extras on the list were cut: a black box theater for the arts wing, a green room where performers dress, a swimming pool, and a separate second turf field.

“We can always grow our own turf,” Auburn Superintendent Katy Grondin said.
The committee will continue its work, including getting costs of the project, in preparation for a Jan. 23 public forum.
“The sooner we get it up there” that the Performing Arts Center is going to be $8.1 million to $8.9 million, “whatever it’s going to take, what the athletic complex is going to be, then people can start breathing, and thinking about it,” School Committee member Bonnie Hayes said.
“The community will be updated on the 1,200-seat auditorium,” Grondin said. “If the community says there’s no way we’re supporting 1,200 seats, we have to think that through. They may say, ‘yes, we see the return on investment.’”
Voters will have the final say on construction at a referendum in June.

Architect Mark Lee displays a design for a new Edward Little High School to the Auburn School Department Building Committee at Auburn Hall on Tuesday evening. (Sun Journal photo by Jon Bolduc)

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