Board looks at concept plans for THINC Academy

Matthew Strother

July 14, 2014

Architect Skip Smith unveiled conceptual design plans for the THINC College and Career Academy at West Georgia Technical College last week.
Smith, of Smith Design Group, spoke to the THINC board Wednesday and gave an overview of his conceptual plans for classrooms and facilities he had put together for the buildings that the charter school will be able to use at West Georgia Tech. The current plan is to use the WGTC student center, library and adjoining areas in the campus building on College Circle, off Orchard Hill Road.
The plans show the entrance to the academy would be on the side of the building facing Orchard Hill Road. Students would have access to the 776 parking spaces next to the campus.
It would include a two-story lobby, with stairs and a slide from the second floor, would have access to a planned coffee shop on the first floor that would be staffed by THINC marketing students and serve THINC and WGTC students. Classrooms and labs for marketing and mechatronics studies, lecture room, energy and technology suite, science and mathematics suite and a “mind craft” area with learning games located on the first floor.
THINC will use the entire 31,000 square-foot second floor, Smith said, which will be used for administrative offices, teacher break room, health care suite, business and computer science area, and career and work-based learning center along with four regular classrooms. The amenities and infrastructure for the second floor are already mostly in place now, with Smith estimating changing about two-thirds of the area, cutting down the cost used for THINC to remodel.
The planned health care area that would have a doctor's office-like setup with mock exam room, hospital beds and nurses' station to simulate the environment students can expect working in the industry. A construction shop area also will be available with tools for engineering and technology students to use.
The areas will “try to create what it's like in the real world, not just an open classroom,” Smith said.
The plans include classrooms will include movable walls to accommodate varying class sizes. Also clear, likely Plexiglas walls in labs would allow teachers to monitor students' activities.
Some of the $3 million in state funds for construction will be used for remodeling WGTC's new student center and library, since it is giving up its current center as part of the area leased to THINC, noted THINC CEO Kathy Carlisle.
“West Georgia Tech has been gracious beyond gracious – a little edgy at times – but that space (used for the marketing students) is their library, which they love,” she said. ” … Some of our cost is replacing what we are taking from them.”
A preliminary schedule was to submit preliminary plans for the facility to the Georgia Department of Education by Aug. 1, final plans to the Georgia DOE and fire marshal by Oct. 1, issue plans for construction bidding in November, receive and select bids by Dec. 1 and start work by Dec. 15 with planned completion by May 2015 so the academy could begin that fall. However Smith noted that the schedule was still “very conceptual” and could change.