SMA Architects collaborated with Helena School District on designing a new Central School to replace the historic structure. After successfully passing a bond for all K-8 Facilities in Helena, SMA began work on the Ed Specs, programming, planning and design of the new Central Elementary School.
The new building will be sited similar to the historic building it replaced with a prominent east entry and the main facade along Warren Avenue, with the entry aligning with 8th Avenue. The new school is 70,000 sf and has multiple 21st century learning pods for collaborative, break-out learning. A commons and cafeteria will adjoin the main entry to feel welcoming to students and the community, while a gym and stage will hold other community events with performances.
Historical elements from the former elementary school, the original Helena High School, and other buildings that occupied the site over the last century have been integrated into the new design, which include the historic elementary school brass bell, granite wall caps and pediments, the former elementary school's main arch, miscellaneous items from the interior including the doors, and the historic exterior stairs. The new school opened Summer 2019, welcoming students back into the neighborhood for the first time in many years.