This 181,000-square foot, 1,000-student middle school replaces a 40+ year old campus. It was strategically constructed on the same site without interrupting school operations. The new design abandons all preconceived notions of traditional school environments by showcasing abundant group learning settings, as well as small learning communities that prioritize individual academic strengths. The program includes arts, culinary and robotics, as well as fine arts and a unique learning hub.
A design committee was organized to achieve a common vision among stakeholders and end-users: campus staff, students, parents, administrators, city council members and local business owners. Several committee members were graduates of the original school, which inherently provided a very unique, personal touch to the design approach. Since the site is adjacent to a city park, police station and rec fields, the design process ensured plenty of discussions and decisions about shared use.
One of the most distinctive design features is a sweeping glass curved façade with views into the central learning hub. The hub combines a café-style cafeteria and library with social plug-n-play presentation spaces. A cylindrical shaped “Lion’s Den” provides a technology-rich, acoustically-enhanced setting for quieter meetings and learning activities. In response to the school’s geographic location, hardened roofs and safe rooms are integrated for tornado shelter.
The design process was orchestrated to respond directly to a pre-developed Strategic Design Initiative (SDI). The SDI introduces a completely new educational formula that prioritizes Next Generation teaching applications and corresponding learning activities. Architects conducted design strategy meetings with campus staff, district leadership, parents and community stakeholders. The meetings were segmented to effectively address each major objective of the SDI.
Exterior green spaces are maximized through multiple outdoor commons leading to a centralized courtyard. Being a renewed site, conservation of existing trees was a top priority. Daylight sensors and LED lighting is utilized throughout the interior. Anodized aluminum and brick provide a very durable exterior surface, while high efficiency HVAC units and campus-wide energy management controls ensure maximum energy performance.
An adjoining city recreation center, police station and park share parking and green spaces with the campus. The interior spatial layout showcases typical circulation pathways doubling as learning stairs, interactive corridors and collaboration lofts for educational activities. Most neighborhood students walk to/from school, so a creek bridge was added to the program for safer commutes between the middle school and adjacent elementary school.
Innovation permeates every square inch of this Next Generation middle school. The built environment effectively blends both project-based and blended learning accommodations throughout its classrooms and learning hub. Responding to the district’s 1:X initiative, students can wirelessly connect any device to interactive projectors to share ideas and accomplishments – not just on paper or a marker board, but on the walls, doors and furniture. The built environment truly doubles as a learning tool.
Star of Distinction Category Winner