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Future Schools: 8 designs to inspire your next campus

By Cricket Heinze | September 2007
V. Sue Cleveland High School<br />
V. Sue Cleveland High School

Need inspiration for your next facilities meeting?

The designs on the following pages will help. View the Slideshow

In addition to their obvious aesthetic beauty, these innovative campus initiatives tackle other issues important to today’s districts: small schools, sustainability, and the role these buildings play in the larger community.

1. Feather River Academy, Yuba City, California
School District: Sutter County
Superintendent of Schools
Students: 234 (grades 7–12)
Area: 24,800 square feet
Cost: $7.2 million
Completion Date: September 2006
Architects: A4E (Architecture For Education)

The Sutter County Superintendent of Schools Office wanted to incorporate the beauty of the surrounding region into the design of the Academy. Folding roofs and an undulating overhang embody the nearby Sutter Buttes. On the building’s exterior, corrugated metal captures the changing light during the course of the school day. Roll-up doors, which act as walls in many classrooms, open up to further connect students to the outdoors.

2. La Mirada High School in La Mirada, California
School District: Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District
Students: 2,270
Area: 24,000 square feet
Cost: $7.8 million
Completion Date: October 2007
Architects: Dougherty +


To replace the portable classrooms that cluttered the crowded La Mirada High School campus, the school district commissioned a two-story addition to the original building, which was designed to follow suit in terms of form and scale. It houses eight classrooms, two bays for support space classrooms, and four stacked science labs. The concentric curve of the addition hugs one edge of the site, leaving plenty of well-defined outdoor space where students can gather. 3. Baker Prairie Middle School in Canby, OregonSchool District: Canby School District
Students: 800
Area: 138,000 square feet
Cost: $25.4 million
Completion Date: January 2007
Architects: BOORA

A series of sustainable design features will reduce Baker Prairie’s energy costs by 41 percent, saving the district approximately $46,800 per year. Environmental highlights include natural lighting and ventilation, automatic lighting controls, carpets made from recycled and renewable materials, a rainwater harvesting system for toilet flushing, and waterless urinals. High- performance glazing on the building’s exterior permits light but not heat, keeping the air cool and eliminating the need for additional energy-consuming heating and cooling systems.

4. V. Sue Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho, New Mexico
School District: Rio Rancho Public Schools
Students: 2,350
Area: 356,000 square feet
Cost: $58.7 million
Completion Date: 2009
Architects: Van H. Gilbert Architects PC in association with Fanning Howey

V. Sue Cleveland High is organized into a series of six smaller “schools within schools” called academies. Each academy is a self-contained wing, which houses a different academic discipline along with its own administrative offices, guidance areas, restrooms, teacher planning centers, group areas, and computer labs. Inside every classroom, moveable furniture allows for numerous classroom configurations. There are also wireless networks, interactive whiteboards, and audio enhancements.

5. Oak Ridge High School in Oak Ridge, Tennessee
School District: Oak Ridge Schools
Students: 1,700
Area: 381,000 square feet
Cost: $48 million
Completion Date: May 2008
Architects: DLR Group in association with ACHW

The primary goal of the modernization of Oak Ridge High School is to connect the school with its community. The front entrance will be relocated to increase the building’s visibility. A 50-foot glass atrium, decorative plaza, public drop-off area, and expanded public parking will welcome visitors. The renovated auditorium and new gymnasium both sport their own entrances and plazas, but are linked through a multi-level commons and cafeteria area lined by a wall of windows.

6. Gray Middle School
in Tacoma, Washington
School District: Tacoma School District
Students: 750
Area: 114,500 square feet
Cost: $28.7 million
Completion Date: January 2008
Architects: Mahlum Architects

Designed to foster a sense of community among students and teachers, Gray Middle School features a long, two-story, central corridor bordered by academic wings. On the edge of each wing, science classrooms open up onto paved outdoor areas in which students can conduct hands-on experiments. Inside the classroom, students become stewards of their environment, using monitors on the walls to check energy use. Interior courtyards with rain gardens increase exposure to natural sunlight while decreasing the impact of storm drainage. From the commons area, students receive an inspiring view of nearby Mount Rainier.

7. Hector Garcia Middle
School in Dallas, Texas
School District: Dallas Independent School District
Students: 1,200
Area: 175,000 square feet
Cost: $24 million
Completion Date: April 2007
Architects: Perkins + Will

The placement of classrooms and shared instructional spaces at Hector Garcia Middle School capitalize on Texas’s brilliant sunshine. The majority of classrooms face north to offer views of the Dallas skyline, receive indirect light for optimal daylight, and ward off the harsh southern exposure. Small windows on the south side minimize the amount of light that comes in. Multiple doors offer easy access to the outdoors, where students create and display art projects.

8. Clark Middle School in Anchorage, Alaska
School District: Anchorage
School District
Students: 1,052
Area: 180,000 square feet
Cost: $52 million
Completion Date: Fall 2009
Architects: McCool Carlson Green

When the Clark Middle School Renewal Project decided to revitalize Anchorage’s oldest middle school (built in 1960), it sought to involve as many stakeholders as possible. An open group of community members and building users formed a committee to monitor the design and construction process. Architects also conducted workshops with students in order to hear the students’ ideas for their ideal learning spaces.

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