University School of Nashville ushers new era with $8M facelift - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

University School of Nashville ushers new era with $8M facelift

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For nearly a century, University School of Nashville has stood as a symbol of progress. It's one of the city's oldest schools and was once on the front lines of the city's civil rights movement.

And, soon, USN will usher in a new chapter in its storied past.

When Manuel Zeitlin was a student at USN back in 1972, the pool house was dark, humid and moldy. But in just a few weeks, the space will be transformed.

"This is the first time you've had daylight from the windows coming all the way through from one side of the school to the other," Zeitlin said.

He is not only an alumnus. The board hired his firm, Zeitlin Architects, to renovate the old Peabody Demonstration School, one of Nashville's oldest and most prestigious K-12 buildings.

"In 1964, my predecessors desegregated the entire school - all grades, all programs - simultaneously," said USN Director Vince Durnan.

Building on that foundation, Zeitlin's mission is to bring the old, antiquated space into the 21st century while still maintaining its integrity and allowing for classes to continue.

"From October until now, essentially a whole school year, we've gone without 50,000 square feet of campus space," Durnan said.

Mark Bixler, the project's architect, admits it wasn't easy.

"The campus is landlocked. They only have so many square feet. It was finding ways to reuse space that they already had in ways that made sense for the way the school operates right now," Bixler said.

Among the changes include a brand new entrance.

"Now everybody is going to be almost bumping into each other. There are all these opportunities to meet and engage students, faculty, other parents," Zeitlin said.

Crews are more than halfway through the $8 million project. In addition to the pool and entrance, they've been able to add two new classrooms.

The renovations should be complete just in time for next school year and USN's centennial celebration.

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