Sheldon Laboratory Systems

Waggener High School

Louisville, KY

Architect / Jefferson County Public Schools, John Lee

Large Mission, Small Budget

The Jefferson County, Kentucky, public school district offers its students a unique opportunity to choose the high school that best fits their career interests. Fifteen of the district’s high schools emphasize different “career themes” ranging from business to performing arts to medical sciences. Students are free to choose the high school that offers the curriculum that most intrigues them. When this unique opportunity also brought the district unique challenges, Sheldon Labs was there to offer unique solutions.

As one of the district’s high schools focused on career themes in medical, health, and environmental sciences, Waggener High School needed modern biology and physical science labs that would engage future doctors and scientists. In 2011, school officials made the decision to completely gut and renovate two of Waggener’s 30-year-old science classrooms to fulfill the school’s mission. But with a budget of less than $400,000 that also had to cover a presentation theatre and a cyber café, the renovation called for both visionary thinking and a practical eye toward the bottom line.

“Sheldon Labs worked with the school district and with our architect to put the best, most well-equipped labs we possibly could into that space,” says John Lee, former director of facility planning for Jefferson County Public Schools, who supervised the project. “With Sheldon’s help, Waggener’s science labs were transformed from the dark ages into a fabulous learning space. The changes Sheldon helped us make will be crucial to supporting science teaching and learning for several decades to come.”

In addition to budgetary concerns, the space itself presented challenges. The 22-feet x 40-feet classrooms had to accommodate adequate furniture and equipment to support 28 students while also allowing enough space for movement and the proper flow of lab experiments. Sheldon rose to the challenge, recommending a mobile teaching station that created a base for the teacher without cramping the space, modifying casework to accommodate existing electrical outlets, fixed HVAC units, and installing Axis tables that eliminated dead space and made the best use of the available square footage. Sheldon also helped renovate a critical storage area between the two labs, creating a cohesive, highly functional overall science learning center.

“Sheldon worked with us through the entire design process,” Lee says. “Everything arrived on time, and Sheldon was there to install it. After the initial installation we had a very minimal punch list, and it was handled without a hitch. Sheldon was so accommodating, it was like they had no other customers and they were only focused on taking care of us. I truly cannot say enough about Sheldon Labs.”

While Sheldon was not involved in the construction of the presentation theatre and cyber café, those areas followed the modern design style and color scheme established by Sheldon in the science labs. Sheldon also created complementary plans for two additional labs that the school district may renovate at a future date if funds become available.

“As far as handling the current project within our budget and helping us plan ahead, Sheldon hit it out of the park,” Lee says. “The new labs are used during almost every period of the school day. As a part of the country’s twenty-fifth largest school district, Waggener serves a diverse student population. The labs Sheldon created have been a real boon in helping the school fulfill its mission to engage those students in the sciences.”

Furniture & equipment provided by Sheldon Labs to Waggener High School included:

Download Case Study

Download PDF