West Reading Elementary Center
The West Reading Elementary Center was originally constructed in 1953 as a kindergarten through 6th grade facility that was supported by the adjacent high school which housed the cafeteria, administration, and library. Subsequent modifications to the building included renovations to the lower level to add a library, classrooms, and a full-service kitchen in 1968; the installation of an elevator in 1998; and the addition of four modular classrooms in 2004 to serve the current 5th and 6th grade population for the entire school district. The administration and nurse’s area were accommodated in two classrooms without direct handicapped accessibility and other support spaces were housed in former closets. This is the oldest building in the school district and did not have a comprehensive renovation since it was constructed.
Located on a 1.3-acre corner of a city block, it is one of only three schools in the district that serve this relatively suburban area of Reading, Pennsylvania. After years of study culminating in a failed referendum, Gilbert was hired to do renovations and additions to maintain this existing community school. To minimize the impact to the surrounding neighborhood and to shorten the time frame for construction so that the students would only be displaced for a Spring semester, the foundation of the addition was constructed simultaneously with the off-site pre-fabricated construction of the two-story classroom addition with administrative offices. This construction technique minimized the amount of stored construction materials and contractors at the school location and reduced the overall construction time significantly.
The students were relocated to other facilities off-site while construction was ongoing. As the addition was being constructed, the building was fully renovated including replacement of the mechanical systems, with air conditioning added throughout the building; complete replacement of electrical and fire alarm systems; upgrades to the technology systems; complete replacement of all plumbing fixtures; fully sprinklering the building; and the replacement of the exterior windows. The existing building also received new finishes including new flooring, tiling over existing structural glazed block in the corridors, new ceilings, paint, and age-appropriate casework.